Use of "Nigger" in "Meanings of a Word" Essay Example

Good Essays
Meanings of a Word Essay Although many African Americans support the use of the word "nigger" in certain circumstances, the mass majority of African Americans who lived in the times where whites used the word in order to degrade African Americans would passionately believe that the word "nigger" should be eliminated from all forms of language. Gloria Naylor clearly states her stance on the issue in "The Meanings of a Word" when she writes, "The people in my grandmother's living room took a word that whites used to signify worthlessness or degradation and rendered it impotent" (68). Consequently, people should never use the word "nigger" because not only does it represent shamefulness, but also the word can serve as a double standard when non-blacks say it. Before the post-Civil Rights era, whites would frequently use the word "nigger" to social degrade and humiliate blacks. During this time, southern whites would commonly use the word "nigger" instead of "Negro" in order to represent superiority over the blacks. This was especially common for slave owners to refer to their slaves as "niggers" in order to both debase the slaves below human beings and to show ownership over their lives. Even though racist slave owners and other whites called blacks "niggers" during slave times, southern whites also referred to blacks as "niggers" throughout more than half of 20th Century. For instance, it would not be uncommon if a black boy wanted to join a neighborhood game of tag with a group of white boys, and one of the white boys told the rest of the group, "We don't need to be associating ourselves with any niggers, lets go over the white schoolyard because that nigger is not allowed to bother us there." In this hypothetical example, clearly the word "nigger" emphasizes inferiority of the black boy. In addition, it also seems as if the white boys fear that being near this black boy may expose them to some sort of contamination such as leprosy. Hence, the word "nigger"

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Nigger: The Meaning of a Word In the essay The Meaning of a Word, “Gloria Naylor” discusses the essence of a word and how it can mean different things to different people in a number of situations. Naylor talks about how depending on your race, gender, or social status using a word like ‘nigger’ can have different meanings. Naylor then uses personal experiences to help the reader visualize how someone views the meaning of the word used in different contexts. Naylor talks about how a written word…

    • 652 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Sowell November 5, 1998 Dr. Osinubi The Meaning of the Word "Nigger" I can recall the first time I paid close attention to the word nigger. In junior high a school fight would occur about every week and of course the whole school would gather together and watch. Well this particular fight sticks out in my mind because it was between two boys of different races, Hispanic and black. During their conflict the Hispanic boy bluntly called the black boy a nigger, and that was when the rest of the black…

    • 504 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Essay On The Word Nigger

    • 370 Words
    • 2 Pages

    The word nigga comes from the Latin word niger which simply means black. The word niger was then changed to negro and integrated into two other languages, Spanish which kept the pure meaning of the word as “black”, and English which perverted the meaning into “black person”. However, by about the 1800s most white Americans had adopted the word as a derogatory racial slur to describe black African American slaves and yet again changed it into a new form of the word. They transformed the word negro…

    • 370 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    The Word Nigger

    • 485 Words
    • 2 Pages

    generation there is different reaction to the word ¨nigga¨ or ¨nigger¨ than there was before. When you say the ¨n¨ word some people take it as calling you ¨dude¨ ,¨man¨ or some people get insulted. Most African Americans say it is not okay for white people to say the ¨n¨ word because of the history behind it. When using this word it traces down to bad history even though it has totally different meaning and is not meant to insult anybody. If you use this word in referring to a friend then it shows your…

    • 485 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Nigger and Word

    • 810 Words
    • 4 Pages

    "Nigger to Nigga: Not Bad After All" When some think about the word nigger they immediately think about negativity and some might even venture to say that it is a "bad" word. It takes you back to a time when blacks were oppressed and demoralized. When blacks were looked at as inferior and not worthy to obtain equal rights in America. But that was decades ago and it is now the 21st century. Not only have we changed the spelling of the word, by dropping the er and adding a, but the definition…

    • 810 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    both Gloria Naylor’s Essay “The Meanings of a Word” and Christine Leong’s “Being a Chink,” both authors, whom are women of color, address the power behind words and their definitions. While acknowledging that words can be both empowering and positive, both Naylor and Leong address that words can be used in negative ways and easily manipulated. Words have the power to express an individual’s feelings and thoughts to one another, whether positive or negative. Alongside this, words can be used as labels…

    • 925 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The word "nigger" has become a popular saying amongst our current population. The word appears to be used more each day by an assorted group of people. I've conducted a research in order to gather a better understanding as of to why the word "nigger" is so commonly used. I've collected responses from my fellow class mates and read a book called nigger to acquire addition information about the different opinions brought on by its usage. In these responses were patterns that helped me to get better…

    • 1568 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Meaning of a word

    • 1126 Words
    • 4 Pages

    written word inferior to the spoken, and much of the frustration experienced by novelists is the awareness that whatever we manage to capture in even the most transcendent passages falls far short of the richness of life. Dialogue achieves its power in the dynamics of a fleeting moment of sight, sound, smell and touch." -excerpt taken from Gloria Naylor's 'The Meanings of a Word'. Words The first sentence of this excerpt can have several interpretations, depending on which synonym of the word 'language'…

    • 1126 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Peter thought it was a little offence that African American call each other that when know what the word Nigger meant. At the same time the two guys where in deep conversation they come across Jean and Rick who are a Caucasian upper class couple. Rick is a District Attorney for the county and his wife Jen is an uptight woman that thinks she is better than ever one else. As Jen and Rick walk past Anthony and peter you can see the fear in her face that the two African Americans were going to try to…

    • 103 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    «the Meaning of the Word»

    • 11666 Words
    • 47 Pages

    «The meaning of the word» Course Project in English Year IV Group 431 Ann Nyagu Research Supervisor: L.P. Gulidova Izmail, 2011 Contents Introduction………………………………………………………………3-4 1. CHAPTER 1. Theoretical part…………………………………………….5 2. The lexical meaning versus notion………………………………………7-11 3. Grammatical meaning…………………….……………………………11-13 .1.3.1. Meaning of singularity…………………………………………………13-14 .1.3.2. Meaning of plurarity………………………………………………………

    • 11666 Words
    • 47 Pages
    Powerful Essays