The "N" Word

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CeCe Williams
English 1010
December 7, 2012
The N-Word: From Then to Now
Since the times of slavery in America, the N-word continues to hold a powerful impact on the way people intentionally and mistakenly use it. Many do not understand the content of the word as it used in several literary works. The N-word creates a setting that conveys the message of how Caucasians have deliberately insulted African-Americans, mainly to show that there was no point of respecting them prior or even post-Civil War. The white race felt more superior; they felt we, as African Americans, did not deserve respect. A classical piece of American literature, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, is now a critic’s target for using the N-word as an indelible part of the American lexicon.

How will our times ever improve for the future if it prohibits us to learn from the past? Today, African Americans are no longer enslaved. This story allows readers to get the feel of what conditions were during the 1800s. Racism and discrimination are real; they are a part of national history. Historical masterpieces need to be exposed and uncensored because they show how things really happened and were seen. According to Alan Gribben, “Race matters in these books. It is a matter of how you express that in the 21st century” (Schultz 6). A percentage of African Americans may be bothered by the amount of hatred compiled with the use of the N-word in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. It should not be a road block hindering the amount of progress African Americans have made thus far or to come. Controversy over replacing the N-word with slave has created much chaos not only in society but also in the publication of Mark Twain‘s work. There are over 30 different editions of his book which have diluted the original copy. Furthermore, the editions have crushed the entire message he was initially trying to convey. Many Americans feel that the removal of the N-word from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is morally correct, but the word centered in controversy is still continuously used in the 21st century Hip-Hop music industry as a term of companionship.

The replacement of the N-word with slave is what Americans feel needs to be done to get the book back into schools. According to an interview by a white student, he read the story in a predominant white class with only one black peer. After he saw the N-word present in a book read in school that gave him the reassurance to use it as if it was morally correct (“The N-word Being Censored”). Racism has been taught to younger generations. A book which holds much emotion and requires maturity should be saved until higher level English and Literature classes for society’s sake. Teachers and parents exposing this book to their children at a young age when they do not fully know right from wrong can cause misconceptions. They would not know the full story behind the N-word, how it was used, and why it is not encouraged to be a part of language today (Perry).

The replacement of the word should not be what needs to be done to get the point across in a more friendly way because that is not how things use to be. “The N-word in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” can give children a sight of how African-Americans have evolved from being called the N-word to Mr. President” (Davis).

Removing the N-word will only open doors for people to forget why the word was used back then. It was used to dehumanize us. It was used to drown our self-respect. The only way we can forgive is not to forget it happened. It is a reminder that times are not in those conditions anymore and never will be. It may be that teachers, professors, or parents have not taking the initiatives to prepare themselves for teaching others about the use of the N-word in English or American Literature.

Today, many famous rappers and entertainers use the N- word in a free sense to refer to their peers. They have created a new...
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