It’s 2019: Why are people still using the N-word?

Morgan Clark

The N-word. You may know people that say it; you may even be one of those people. In the age of social media and the use of it in music, it has become more normalized, but should it be that way?

Senior, Lydia Lara, saw her friend use the word on Snapchat which prompted her to post about the issue on her own platforms.

“I was looking at one of my friend’s stories and she was partying and she probably had stuff to drink, and I’m aware of that, but she was with a group of friends in a car and I didn’t see any Black people in that video, I just saw a lot of Latinos. They were singing this song by Chief Keef and saying the N-word, and it’s a good song, like it goes hard,” said Lara. “But I know a lot of people would argue this with me- that when you’re at a party it shouldn’t matter; everyone’s having fun- but I still don’t see that as acceptable.”

Sophomore and president of BSU, Jordan Cray, spoke on where she often hears the word.

“Usually when I’m around like a group of black people they say it, but I don’t really have an issue because that’s what I was raised around at school and all my friends used to say it,” said Cray.“But being at a PWI, it’s usually at parties or in an entertaining environment, like Bingo or when they’re singing along to a song, so that’s when I hear mostly non-black people say it.”

But why is the N-word said so often at social events?

Lara gave her opinion on why she thinks people use the word.

“I think overall people want to be included in culture and black culture is so prominent in our society right now. There’s so many songs out there that are hits and people are like ‘Oh, I’m down with this’ and people want to be part of that and I get that,” Lara said. “I know a lot of people say it because they say, ‘you know my friend’s black and he said I can say it’ and it’s still like, ‘Are you aware of the historical oppression that the people like him have experienced?’ I think a lot of it comes from the inexperience of history too”

Cray had a similar opinion as Lara.

“I feel like things that are popular or from a certain race or ethnicity is seen as being cool or hip or in-style. Like think about rap music and specifically du-rags and wave checks; I’ve seen videos of white people wearing du-rags and they don’t even have waves, but they just do it to seem cool. I think most people use it [N-word] to fit in with the norm.”

Cray expanded on rap music being influential on the use of the word.

“Rap is so interesting because I prefer people like J.Cole or Kendrick Lamar that’s rapping about something important, but then you have other rappers like Lil Pump and his song ‘Gucci Gang’ or stuff like that,” Cray said. “I think that type of rap is encouraging it, and I’m not just saying this about non-black rappers, like people in the black community use it just be cool too.”

While Cray and Lara have similar views on why the N-word is used, they disagree on how the word should be used overall, however, both agree that non-blacks should not be using the word for various reasons.

“I think that people who are non-black, who don’t have any black decent, even people who are black but can pass as white and are using that word for their benefit to climb up social ladders, shouldn’t use it. I think that it’s not ok especially if you are trying to use to gain something.”

Cray had a differing opinion.

“I have mixed feelings about it. I’m in between having only black people use it or not using it at all simply because of the history. People might think that ‘Oh that was such a long time ago’ but when you think about the Civil Rights Movement was just 50 years ago. And it [the N-word] was rooted with so much hate,” Cray said.

So what is the point of talking about this? Well, Cray and Lara sum it up pretty well.

“Just know the history behind what you are doing because you never know where it’s from. It doesn’t even have to be black culture; it can be any culture. Like some people wear chopsticks in their hair and don’t know the history behind it so like ‘Why are you doing it? Just to seem cool?’ and you could easily offend somebody. I feel like the history has been kind of erased, so it doesn’t seem like it was that bad, but if you study it and learn things about it, it’s different,” Cray said.

Lara had a differing view saying educated students should know better.

“When you’re in higher academia and have been in college for 2 or 3 years already, and we’ve been talking about this in active discussion, you shouldn’t say the N-word,” Lara said. “Black people use that word because they are reclaiming it. We don’t need to reclaim it, it was never a word used as a tool to oppress us, so that should not be anything that comes out of our mouths.”