a very thoughtful example of…

October 29th, 2008

TheThinkMovement.com by j. sakiya sandifer

This is an article by a friend of The Think Movement published in The Jersey Journal

Heard widely or not, it’s a word that dehumanizes
Friday, October 24, 2008

Did you ever have the taste for really good pizza, or something you just wanted?  Well, I did recently, and I stopped at Larry and Joe’s, a fine Italian Restaurant on Newark Avenue that has excellent pizza pie. But after 30 seconds of being in the popular spot, I forgot why I was there.

You see, at one of the tables a group of youths adorned with the uniform shirts of the nearby high school were conversing, very loudly.  Not unusual for their age, but in one sentence I heard the “N” word referenced at least four times and no, it was not used as a term of endearment.

Now I know it has become common of late when debated amongst those with college degrees to observe that rap music has injected this poisonous term into youths’ minds so that it is considered a term of endearment, something they would only say to a friend or a homey.

Oh well, that’s not exactly the case. Because the term is also used to depict adversaries, people from other neighborhoods, guys across the street, so this is not all about love and endearment.

This dirty word and its repeated utterance struck me, and I was compelled to confront the group. After telling them to watch their mouths, I asked them did they know what that word means without repeating it?

That they were completely dumbfounded was somewhat disturbing, but when the young girl amongst them asked her peer, “What did you say?” Another asked me, “What does it mean?”

Well, without leaping to conclusions, and judging by their high school uniforms that would gain them entrance into the Palisade Avenue institution of higher learning nearby, I said, “You have the Internet? And you’re in school right, so look it up. It doesn’t mean what you think.”

The brief interlude will probably mean nothing to the group, but perhaps there is one who may bother to look up the despicable origin and legacy of this word between the idle chatter and moments between the games and YOU TUBE while using their computers. Perhaps one amongst them will bother to influence their friends to think that this word, the “N” word if you will, isn’t cool. It’s hurtful, dehumanizing and simply ignorant.

There are many despicable words out there that target different groups, but none, save for this, are allowed to permeate society through various mediums, radio, television, the music industry and in print, so much so, particularly in entertainment, that it has seemingly become okay to use for certain generations. It’s gotten to the point that when inappropriate language is used on television, curse words are bleeped out, but not the “N” word. Why is that?

Well, I’m not one of those generations. And it’s not okay to me. I’ve confronted many who think it is okay and asked them if they realize what they are saying is offensive, insulting and simply not appropriate. But, is this a fight worth having? Simply, yes, it is.

But I can’t do it alone.

One of my younger colleagues, who also attended a local high school, broke the sad news to me that when he attended school just a few short years ago that this term was used by everyone in the schools. He said not a single teacher ever corrected him or any other students on the use of this word and the awful history behind it. Well, that’s a shame. Because if no one bothers to stand up and correct these still developing young minds on the basic courtesies and respect, or knowledge of very recent history, then the future gets dimmer by the minute.

And to those who would question, “Why can’t we say it when ‘they’ say it all the time in their movies and rap songs?” Well, there is simpler question for them to ask themselves, regardless of the depth or lack there of of their respective vocabularies: “Why would you want to say it all?”

STAN H. EASON is a spokesperson for the City of Jersey City and a former Jersey Journal reporter.

TheThinkMovement.com by j. sakiya sandifer

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Entry Filed under: Think About It!

1 Comment

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  • 1. Mo  |  October 30th, 2008 at 3:25 PM

    What can you do about the people that know where it comes from and still abuse it?

    I’m sure theres a pretty nice number of people who just aren’t mature enough to think about the affect that word has, and mature enough to break a norm or go against the grain of their peers. That’s hard as shit for grade school kids, whose confidence is hinged on how well they fit in (for most, anyway).

    Not to be hypocritical, since I catch myself slippin sometimes. But I’m trying to keep it out of my vocab. And getting better at it.

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