The Word That Begins with N

During a discussion on the View concerning Presidential hopeful Rick Perry’s family hunting lodge that had a stone with ‘Niggerhead’ painted on it, hosts Whoopie Goldberg and Barbara Walters said the word. Sherri Shepherd said to Barbara Walters: “I didn’t like the way you said it.” She proceeds to explain the difference between ‘nigger’ and ‘nigga.’

The View

The View hosts

Barbara Walters replied, “I’m sorry, I’m not sure, is it my accent?” No Barbara, it’s not your accent, it’s your skin color. Sherri says that there’s a different “connotation” when Barbara uses it even though she acknowledges that Barbara is a journalist and is only reporting the facts. Sherri’s only defense is that it gives her a bad feeling when Barbara says it.

Whoopi tries to bring the conversation back to the fact that Perry was trying to hide the name of the camp, to pretend that the word didn’t exist.  “Let’s call it what it said,” insists Whoopi.

Sherri, Barbara, and Whoopi neatly embody three popular perspectives of the notorious, most racially offensive word in American language today:

The Sherris– like the NewSouth Books editors who printed an edition of Huckleberry Finn without the N-word– favor censorship; remove the word from history and the mouths of scholars and the mouths of white people; the only ones allowed to acknowledge its existence or use it are black folks because then, somehow, it’s not offensive.”I have used it with my friends and family…When white people say it, it brings up feelings in me.”

The Whoopis– the word exists, dammnit, and it’s an unfortunate yet real part of American history; why continue to tip-toe around the word lest you want to give it more power. Thank goodness for disengaged youth who use the nigga version and by doing so take the stink off the word and make it their own. “Let’s not pretend that this isn’t a part of the fabric of America.”

The Barbaras–politically conscious individuals who are hesitant to say any version of the word because of the historically offensive significance of it, although they acknowledge that total censorship is like ripping the pages out of a history book; these are the people who invented the replacement moniker ‘the N-word’. “We’re all so afraid of saying it…If I’m reporting on this, you mean I can’t use the word if I’m reporting?”

Info on the origin of the word here.

You can see the conversation on the View here.


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