SAMPLE EXCERPT:

" The main problem with the use of the word 'nigger' is the derogatory connotation that the word has had ever since the 1800's. That long of a history is sometimes difficult to shake.

Another problem that comes into play is the lack of interest in understanding the word and its origins, and working to return the word to something that isn't painful for so many people to hear. Some across the country are using Kennedy's essay in classrooms, in an effort to educate children about the different uses of the word, and the ways that it has been used, including humor and endearment. One such teacher was forced to apologize to a lot of parents and other teachers recently because she used the essay in her seventh-grade classroom and many parents complained. They thought it was offensive (Teacher's, 2003). It might have been, to them, but the only way that it will ever have the chance to stop being offensive is if people realize that there are other meanings for the word and other ways to look at it besides the obvious one of being a racial slur.

In the essay that Kennedy wrote, he is trying to show to everyone who reads it that the term 'nigger' means much more than what most people automatically think of. To do this, he incorporates many jokes and comments, and he doesn't seem to take any offensive to the word at all. Rather than get upset about it, he chooses to examine it, and perhaps help to determine why it has been found so very offensive for so long. He also asks many questions about the word, such as whether it's acceptable for African-Americans to use the word around each other, and whether it should be acceptable for Caucasians and other races to use the word as well. Should it be regulated? Should there be a difference in meaning when used by a different race, or is it all the same no matter who says it? (Kennedy, 3-4).

Even though the word started out as a neutral comment, became a racial slur, and has curved toward a term of endearment between certain individuals, it appears that old prejudices and stereotypes remain and that there will always be people who view it as a racial slur. These are the very likely the same people who will continue to view African-Americans as something less than Caucasian people. For this kind of people, the word 'nigger' is an insult, and it will remain so. To them it is intended to be an insult. For those that work to understand history and the power of words, however, there are many ways to look at the word 'nigger' including choosing not to use it because, regardless of personal feelings about the word, it may still offend many people.

Works Cited

English Language History. 2003. 9 October 2003 http://www.yaelf.com/history.shtml.

Kennedy, Randall. Nigger - The strange career of a troublesome word. New York: Pantheon, 2002.

Teacher's lesson on 'N' word angers parents. 10 January 2003. CNN.com 9 October 2003 http://www.cnn.com/2003/EDUCATION/01/10/n.word.lesson.ap/.