Gloria Naylor's Nigger: The Meaning Of A Word

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Throughout the history of the United States, many derogatory and hurtful terms have been created to refer to individuals or a collective group of minority people with the goal of undermining them. Some examples of these words are ‘Nigger’, ‘Faggot’, ‘Beaner’ among countless other harmful labels. These terms are problematic, as they dehumanize the race in which they target, as reminders of the oppression experienced by these groups, giving the terms power. Among these hateful words, ‘nigger’ remains the oldest term and is the most racially charged and hurtful to the minority group that it intends to harm which are blacks. Only blacks should be able to use the word ‘nigger’ in America, because it was created with the intentions to dehumanize blacks, carrying all of the racist and discriminatory history experienced by blacks in the…show more content…
Author, Gloria Naylor describes the different ways the word is used in her essay, “Nigger”: The Meaning of a Word. These ways being in black on black contexts, or to discriminate against blacks. Naylor writes, “But I didn’t ‘hear’ it until it was said by a small pair of lips that had already learned it could be a way to humiliate me” (324). Naylor indicates that she had heard ‘nigger’ being used all throughout her life in family and black community contexts, but she did not “hear” the word until it was said by a white child. When Naylor say’s “hear” the word she means that until she was called a ‘nigger’ by the white boy, she had never realized how easily the word could be used against her, dehumanizing her instantaneously. Reinforcing the idea that when ‘Nigger’ is used by those who are not black, if not already being intended as an insult it will be taken as one, and cause conflict, because of the racist intentions the word
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