February is nationally recognized as black history month, a month dedicated to recognizing one of the most underestimated and stereotyped races on earth. This month is centered on loving the black community, their power, and their courage in overcoming the adversity they and their ancestors have faced since the beginning of time. Focusing in on the factors that define black history, we must discuss an extremely controversial topic; The N-Word.
The word became mainstream in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a term which slave owners used in order to segregate the races and assert white supremacy. Essentially, the word was created by the Caucasian race to support their prevalent superiority complex. By creating a word that not only identified, but degraded, their slaves, the slave owners kept the colored race restrained by the chains of slavery. Fast forward to the early 60's, the majority of mainstream society were able to identify the offensive nature of the word. Alternative words such as 'colored' and 'black' became more socially acceptable; however the meaning and weight behind the word still remained.
Come present day, it is clear the use of the word is increasingly prevalent and sometimes abused by the wrong people. Mainstream genres of music, such as rap, are reclaiming the N-Word. Whether this reclamation is a sign of solidarity among African Americans, or simply a tactic to release some of the weight that has so long been tied to that word, one thing is always left unsaid; the word is not yours to use unless you are apart of the African American community.
What many people fail to realize is the true severity of the word itself. Using the word and not being of African descent truly highlights your ignorance and insensitivity toward the Black Community. There have been several critics defending their actions of using the word on the premise that it is just a word, or they have several black friends who are okay with it. Never will this be an acceptable justification for the blatant slander of your black brothers and sisters.
The reclamation of the N-Word will only apply to those apart of the race simply because they are the only people who will truly understand what it is like to be black in America. The atrocities that the black man has faced for generations is unequivocal to any other racial community. The threat of racial profiling, police brutality, and misrepresentation in the media is the most high with people of the African American race. Using the word without understanding of the hardships the African American community has faced ultimately causes you to use that word in ignorance and insensitivity to the black community, justified or not.
What many need to recognize is how these words can affect the communities most close to us. For hundreds of years, the African American community has endured hardship after hardship, and a word that is a burning reminder of the experience and pain the Black community is still trying to cope with, is something that has to be strictly off limits for other races. When addressing such a controversial topic, the N-Word is never just a word. It is an experience, a memory, a culture and a history. And if you are not explicitly a part of that history, the word should have nothing to do with you. Be sensitive, and recognize how your actions could be working toward the degredation of and disregard to the entirety of the African American community and culture.