The Village

  • Can We Finally Kill the N-word?

    Nov 25, 2013. Written by Harry Colbert

    Want proof that the zombiepocalypse is real, then how about this not-so-divine resurrection?

    On June 9, 2007, a grand funeral was held, but the entity in the casket (I’m sad to say) is alive and well. Buried on that day was the “N-word.” The NAACP held the mock services during its annual convention, but nearly six and a half years later the N-word is stronger than ever, haunting millions of African Americans daily. Maybe we need a silver bullet to kill it. Maybe cyanide. Maybe kryptonite.

    I know the N-word isn’t a vampire because I see it all the time during daylight hours. Need proof? Log on to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The latest trend on social media is “N-words be like” with some outrageous caption attached to the most unflattering photos.

    And true, the captions are spelled with the supposedly more palatable and “acceptable” “a” at the end, as opposed to the “it’s about to be some mess” “er,” but the word is alive all the same. But even that distinction of “a” versus “er” gets lost in translation. As Trinidad Jame$ would say, “Don’t believe me, just watch.” By the way, I quoted Trinidad Jame$ for emphasis on the vitality of the N-word, as his surprise hit song, “All Gold Everything” is laced with the word for no apparent reason.

    Many African Americans are so used to saying and hearing the word that white people are getting in on the act. And what’s the difference between the brother on the block and the white “educators” saying the vile word – or NFLers Richie Incognito or Riley Cooper saying it?

    Nothing. Not a thing.

    I understand the concept of taking the word and changing it to take its power away, but I say we don’t attempt to defuse this bomb. This explosive word is a symbol of the countless men and women who were killed, maimed and brutalized for being perceived as less than human. Every time we hear that word … no matter who utters it or how it is pronounced, we should be outraged and incensed.

    We should think of the whips of slave owners and overseers splitting flesh. We should think of Emmett Till, a black child killed in Mississippi for supposedly whistling at a white woman. We should think of James Byrd, Jr., chained to an automobile and dragged to death in Texas. We should think of Trayvon Martin being killed for the “crime” of wearing a hoodie in the wrong neighborhood. We should think of four little girls killed in a church basement in Alabama. We should think of the slayings of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers.

    And let me be honest and forthright in saying I have been guilty of using the word … both “a” and “er.” I’ve said it in times of anger and of jubilation. I’ve said it while listening to many of my favorite hip-hop songs – far too many songs. But I spew it no more. I will no longer dishonor my ancestors by uttering the word again. I humbly ask everyone do the same. Can we finally allow this word to rest in peace? Hell, even if it’s not in peace, just let it rest.