Mommy, What Does "Nigger" Mean?

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“I wonder how the field nigger would feel if he was sitting next to me on the A train at approximately three o'clock any day of the week. And he heard his little great great grand son speak dozens if not hundred of times from 59th street to west 4th the word that made black families pack up in the south the move north? Would he slam a couple of the these boys against the doors and ask ,what's the deal nigger, do you think you're keeping it real nigger? Do you know how I was killed nigger? They murdered me with hot rods of steel nigger, now how do you think this makes me feel nigger?” (Julian, Video) Julian Curry recited during an episode of Def Poetry.

As you can see, the word “nigger” is used in everyday life in the black community but had a different meaning back in the age of slavery. Currently, the word “nigger” is being used throughout the black community with a positive, uplifting connotation, but back in the slave age it degraded, created pain and struggle to an entire race of people. That race of people are the same race of people who use the word to day. Julian Curry takes the side of the past slaves and believes that “nigger” shouldn't be used because of the impact the word had on black slaves. On the other hand, Gloria Naylor, an author wrote an article on February 20, 1986, in the New York Times, describing her experience with the word “nigger”.

In “Mommy, What does 'Nigger' Mean?” by Gloria Naylor, the author uses her experience with the word nigger to describe why words can have different meanings. The meaning changes depending on where its used, the context in which it is used, and the kinds of people that use them. The author starts off by describing and experience that she had in the third grade with a student calling her a “nigger”. Not truly knowing the meaning of the word “nigger”, she was able to conclude that the boy was using it in a derogatory way. After describing her experience with the little boy in her class, she begins to...
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