Make Black History Personal: #13 One Picture Worth a Thousand N Words
One day in 1966, I was walking down the street in a neighborhood on the East side of Detroit and a little blonde boy, he couldn’t have been more than 7 years old, called out to me as I passed his front lawn –
It was the first time anyone had ever called me America’s most explosive and historically derogatory word and sadly, it wasn’t the last. I will never forget that day or the “punched in the gut” feeling I got when I was called a nigger.
But as shocked as I was, I remember how that little kid looked at me – not with hatred, but with a sense of accomplishment because someone he loved and looked up to used the word “nigger” often enough that it felt comfortable to him to say it.
Most of the time, these days, I don’t come in contact with people who feel like they can call me “nigger” right out. What troubles me, though, is how this hate-filled word has been politically corrected, neatly sanitized and even given its own little special nickname –
Whether to use the phrase “the N word” or not is a popular debate these days. In fact, when I Googled it, 118 million results popped up. For crying out loud, there are only 2.9 million results for the word “nigger”. Sure looks like trying to make this word politically correct has given it a bigger life than it would have had on its own.
And that’s gotta be the definition of insanity.
I don’t know about you, but when I say “the N word”, it’s like pretending I’m not saying the word “nigger”. But I am. All “the N word” phrase does is sugarcoats a word we should never use and then lets it roll off the tongue nice and easy. Maybe we should be letting the word “nigger” roll out of the English language instead. And that will never happen if we keep trying to make this word politically correct so we can continue to use it.
It’s time to let it go.
One picture worth a thousand “N words”.
About Karen Batchelor
Karen Batchelor is a genealogist and founder of ExtremeAncestry.com where she blogs about more than three decades of climbing her family tree. Learn more about her here and connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.