Using the “N” word is racial profiling

Aniah McKenzie writes that the

Aniah McKenzie writes that the "N" word has been wrongfully commercialized. Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press

Aniah McKenzie

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The “N” word has been commercialized by our generation to the point where it’s being used casually, as if it’s the same as saying “cool story bro.” But is it something that can actually be said in casual conversation? Or is it something that only black people can say? Or should it just not be used at all?

Aniah McKenzie writes that the "N" word has been wrongfully commercialized. Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press

Aniah McKenzie writes that the “N” word has been wrongfully commercialized. Credit: Joel Mayorga/The Foothill Dragon Press

The “N” word has been commercialized by our generation to the point where it’s being used casually, as if it’s the same as saying “cool story bro.” But is it something that can actually be said in casual conversation? Or is it something that only black people can say? Or should it just not be used at all?

Who is actually allowed to say the “N” word?

Being of African descent, I do take offense to the word. Not only do I take offense because I am black, but also because I am American. This word represents a dark, difficult and harsh time that should remain in the past not only in America, but also in other countries that implemented the institution of slavery.

On the television network ABC there is a show called “Blackish.” In a recent episode, “The Word,” the main character Andre Johnson, played by Anthony Anderson, encounters the issue of who is allowed to say the “N” word. This comes about when his son Jack Johnson, played by Miles Brown, says the word when he is rapping for a school talent show.

The school he attends decides to expel him because it is an “inappropriate word,” and the school has a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate language. But, Andre fights the school, arguing that the word is his “birthright” as an African-American.

Why would anyone want to have the “right” to degrade themselves? Because in my reality, that’s what a person is doing every time they say it. The “N” word is essentially saying that you are less than others. I don’t agree with the fact that Jack was expelled (that’s just overkill), neither do I agree that he should have been punished. He did, however, need to be talked to about it. 

Andre felt that because the “N” word had been used in the past to ridicule and shame blacks, today’s generation is “reclaiming” the word, but only blacks can say it.

Many blacks use it when their talking to other black people, but why would you want to say your “brother” is below others? Not only is it blacks saying the “N” word, but it’s everyone using it. Sometimes I hear my white friends say it and I don’t really know what to say about it. I’ve been asked before if I was comfortable with others saying it and I told them I was fine with it, as long as it’s not being directed at myself.

Some people even go as far as saying the connotation of the “N” word is different if you change the “r” at the end to an “a.”

With all that has been going on with Ferguson – rioting, murders, and political tensions- I have realized what that word really means and that I do not want to be associated with it. If this word continues being used, many others and I will always be prejudged because of how much pigment we have in our skin. To me, that will never make any sense.

In the beginning I was just as confused as Andre, but I have now decided for myself that using the “N” word is racial profiling. Even if you don’t mean to when you say it, it will always be associated with that, which is why Jack gets into so much trouble for using it at school. People try to justify using it with the fact that slavery happened over 150 years ago. The issue with that is the leftovers of slavery still exists in things like racial profiling. It’s especially visible when you look at all of the racial based murders and riots just in the last three years.

Jack uses it as slang in the song he sings for his talent show, “Gold Digger” by Kanye West. His intent was clearly not to offend or insult anyone, but it is still a word that shouldn’t be used so generally. At the end of the episode, Jack ends up getting a three day suspension. Andre still does not know what to tell his son. Is it or is it not okay? In the end he decides to let Jack decide on his own when he’s old enough but never comes to a straight decision for himself.

In the end, it is for the individual person to decide if they will use it or not. The fact is, just because I don’t want people to use it does not mean that a law is going to be made against it.

That’s not reality, but individuals need to know that every time they say the “N” word they are bringing back the shadow of what slavery was.

What do you think?