Gloria Naylor's Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean?

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Misinterpreted It is rare that there is ever only one meaning to a word. In the story “Mommy, What Does ‘Nigger’ Mean?” Gloria Naylor, writes about her life growing up in a time where the word ‘nigger’ was used often. She believed that the word has many different connotations, and began to question what the word had meant when she had been on the receiving end of the word. The first time she got called ‘nigger’ was in third grade when she was handing papers back, and she states, “he snatched his test from me and spit out that word” (Naylor 1). She was confused by the word because she had heard it before, but not in this context. The meaning of words back then and even today have different connotations and we have to learn how to interpret their…show more content…
Although some of the words we say are negative, we have to look at the context the person presented it in and we have to learn to be mature about their perspective. My goal is to try and influence the readers of this paper to understand how words are used, the person who states the word is not always trying to offend you. Naylor tells us after, “The dynamics were the exact opposite: the people in my grandmother's living room took a word that whites used to signify worthlessness or degradation and rendered it impotent” (Naylor 2). This signifies how the African-American people during her time chose not to be offended by the word ‘nigger,’ but turned around and made something positive out of it. Her essay also relates to me because I understand that different words have different meanings. When I hang out with my friends we use words the incorrect way almost all of the time, but we do understand that we are not using them correctly and choose not to be offended. For other people though it is easy for them to get offended because they are not sure which context you’re using the words in and can mistake you for harassing them. This is why we have a sort of filter in our minds to not say these words to people we are not closely associated
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