Our campus recently had “An Evening of Dialogue” where we came together to discuss the way bias related language, racial epithets and other slurs are unacceptable on our campus. Well, just this week, a student visited the Office of Student Diversity to share with the director the “lingering affects” of the use of the “n” word on him/her. The student explained that since the Evening of Dialogue, they continue to hear this offensive language….even from their peers. The student came prepared….they shared a personal reflection they wrote after trying to confront a peer for their constant use of this offensive language. We share that reflection with you below. We’ve edited it for space — but it still gives all of us more than enough to ponder.
As our writer below says, the “n” word “rattles and bellows, echoes almost in my chest.” There’s a REASON we struggle before printing it — it has an impact.
Please feel free to respond (respectfully), either through comments here or privately to the Diversity Initiatives Office.
The “n” word…
Whether it’s with an “a” or an “er” at the end…
it seems to have the same effect on me.
It doesn’t matter who says it, or its context, it’s all the same.
The word rattles and bellows, echoes almost in my chest.
(The “n” word) is like…salt in a wound…
How about those situations when it’s done in a casual way?
How do I confront someone in a group of people who bring it up in this subversive racist way?
And what about their response?
Dealing with the unbearable…”so Black people can say it, but I can’t”?
Or “well, it’s in all the rap songs.”
Or even…”I didn’t say NIGGER, I said NIGGA.”
It’s become so “normal.” What changes can I, one person make. Sometimes I feel silly when saying to someone not to say it. I feel like I have no right.
The word causes this deep-rooted damage.
Whether used intentionally to harm or not…
How about when someone has it embedded in their vocabulary? When it’s their normal? It’s “okay” to them? Can I say anything at all. It becomes hard to stick up for yourself sometimes, or even just to stand up for what’s right…
After situations, time and again, I’m stuck thinking “I should have said”…
I HAVE A THIN SKIN…
This makes me feel helpless.
This word is a HATE word.
There’s no changing the meaning of it…
I know that most episodes aren’t racist.
They’re an example of a cavalier attitude.
An insensitivity to the fact that when a Black person
hears that word, then it’s difficult.
It’s a word with consequences.
(How about Blacks who use it around whites? What does that say to them?)
How about words like “fag” or things of that nature.
People tend to censor their language around gay people b/c they don’t want to offend them. …am I wrong to expect a natural censorship especially from friends or acquaintances?
These are all things I think about…It’s changed my life.
Where do I start? How can I make a change? An impact?
Can I even do these things?
Am I strong enough?
What about the backlash?
Will I lose friends?
Is it worth it?
I DON’T KNOW!