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I suppose a good place to begin would be with reality. It is unrealistic to think this word will just disappear from the face of the earth. It is as much a part of American history as the Boston Tea Party, the Civil War, slavery, etc. and we may as well learn to accept that. It should also be discussed and taught in our classrooms so that people will be a little more knowledgeable and have more of an understanding why it is such a vile word.

The real issue here is for African Americans to not demean and degrade themselves by referring to one another as the n-word. More likely than not, you are going to always hear...well it is just a word, what's the big deal? Suppose we examine what the big deal is.


Generally speaking one will go to a dictionary or Wikipedia for a definition of the word n***er and stop there. You are not going to get a definitive understanding as to what this word is all about simply by going to a dictionary. When it comes to a dictionary or encyclopedia, the meaning of the word probably has changed hundreds of times down through the centuries. Fully understanding the true meaning of this word takes extensive research and only then will one come to realize that n***er is more than just a is a created image.


I found it incredulous that we want to justify use of this word by making reference to a time when it was free of any negative connotation. It doesn't matter of it was the word of God at one time (which by the way, if anything, it is the word of the devil) this has nothing to do with what transpired during an infamous four centuries. This is what truly matters. The only problem here is that both black and white America alike are in complete denial, albeit for different reasons, when it comes to facing up to all that went on during America's most heinous, ugliest and depraved moments in its history and perhaps World history as well. Hitler, Attila the Hun, Ivan the Terrible look like mere Boy Scouts compared to what went on here in man's effort to conquer and control, the minds, souls and hearts of another race of people. All that went down during this era stunk so bad its a wonder the stench wasn't smelt as far away as planet Jupiter.

People were tortured, disemboweled, hung, boiled and burned alive and this is just the tip of the iceberg as to all that was done, and it was all done in the name of the n-word. All the atrocities that were perpetrated upon a race of people were deemed to be okay because slaves were not considered to be human but sub-human, and were thus called n***ers, and this was suppose to make everything okay...since it's suppose to be fair game to do anything you choose to a n***er. So the last word that ascendants of African Americans would hear as they drew their last breath was the taunt of the word n***er. The very word that's being used so affectionately and endearingly by today's African American descendants. How pathetic, moronic and idiotic.

The slaves had to have been very courageous, brave, resilient and strong to be able to survive such an incorrigible period of time. And out of honor, respect, pride, and dignity it should be considered an abominable act to take such a vile and distasteful word as the n-word and make a mockery of all that the slaves went through by conducting ourselves like heathens embracing this word with so much love, devotion and affection. Sadly enough no racial pride is being demonstrated with what's going on with the contemporary African American and the n-word. Which takes me to the next topic.

Mind Control

Yet with all the physical abuse that took place, that pales in comparison to the mental abuse that transcends anything ever done to a human being anywhere at anytime on the face of this earth. The created image of a n***er was literally beaten into the minds and hearts of a race of people. Slaves were broken down to the level of being shiftless, lazy, drunkards, irresponsible, to have no self-respect, love for self nor for their woman or child, and to be totally dependent upon the white man. And to add insult to injury they would ask you your name and you had better answer,"Ya suh, master, I am n***er." As recent as the 60s this practice in the South was still going on. Only, it was just simply not necessary to say the "Ya suh, master, part. The police would stop young black men and ask them their name and they would be beaten until they replied,"I am a n***er.

The psychological impact of this word is being totally down played and this is to the detriment of Blacks because until we face up to how this word affects the psyche of many African Americans, on-going issues that exist in the Black community are going to go unresolved. People say there are more important things in the community to worry about than just a word. A person is either wise or a fool and there is no wisdom in overlooking the power of this word. All words and thoughts have an energy flow, some are more powerful than others. In the case of the n-word it has a very powerful negative energy flow that's affecting the hearts and minds of a race of people and should not be taken lightly.

In 1863, slaves were physically set free but let's not forget something...slaves were both physically and mentally enslaved. So at what point in history were they ever mentally set free? They never were. The one link that is still intact to mental enslavement is the n-word. You look at the black on black crime, drug addictions, the high rate of incarceration, poor conduct in schools, broken homes, etc. and then listen to the lyrics from rap music. None of this has to do with the color of one's skin as so many prefer to believe. This is all about one's "state of mind" a state of mind that's been in place for almost 400 years.

What is a "state of mind"? It is an image. What is the n-word? It is an image. The human mind is not a toy; it is the most prized possession a person has, unless they have relinquished ownership of it to someone else. Consider what our government would do in times of war when our POW's would come home. The POW's are isolated and are then mentally de-programmed so that they are able to once again function in a normal society. When were the minds of the slaves de-programmed? Never! In order for the African American to be mentally free, the process starts with divorcing themselves from the n-word...a word that has mentally enslaved them, going on almost 400 years.

Have African Americans taken it upon themselves to relate to the n-word? No! No! No! They simply can't help themselves. African Americans have embraced this word because they have been conditioned to do so and like it or not that's the hard cold facts. Most African Americans who use this word could never stop even if they wanted to. It is in their subconscious mind to relate to this word. So they come up with all these lame excuses as to why they embrace the word. Understand something...for almost 400 years blacks have been given the green light to relate to the n-word. This institutionalized system will never ever give you the green light to stop using it. This is something that African Americans are going to have to have the wisdom, courage and fortitude to do on their own.


"ER" to the"A", this is one excuse that would insult the intelligence of a sixth grader. Brother or brotha, sister or sista, n***er or n***a, all have two common denominators. First, they came about as the result of a ghetto vernacular. Second, replacing the "er" with an "a" changes nothing other than the pronunciation. The meaning remains the same and though African American users of the word try to say differently, and though this understanding is prevalent throughout the black community, the meaning is by no means global. So when a non-black hears this word or even pronounce this word, it is going to be with the "er".

Another excuse is we are desensitizing the word; we are taking the sting out. If the n-word was just a another word, perhaps that would work, but it is not just another word. It is a created image with enormous power to cripple the minds of a race of people, which it has been doing for almost 400 years now. This word has tons of baggage that is best to simply leave alone. So who is keeping this word alive, the African American, that's who. And the reason being, they simply cannot help it.

And yet another excuse is, we own this word; nobody can use it but us, this is our word. Every time I hear this one, my nose quivers. This one is so ludicrous and insulting, I'm not going to even bother to comment on it.


The road to further racial harmony in this country is a two way, not a one way street. In other words, it is not all on the white man, the black man also is going to have to help carry that bucket of coal. This is not year 1707 but 2007 and it is past time that African Americans start becoming accountable for their own actions. Does racism exist in this country? Of course it does. However, there are many times that what's considered to be racial discrimination is nothing more than human nature at work. It's called the Law of Cause and Effect.

When I speak of African Americans being mentally enslaved, I am referring to not only the African Americans who are unable to tear themselves away from that word, but also those who may not use the word themselves but could care less if anyone else does. When it comes to the n-word and the discontinuance of the usage of it, we all need to be on the same page. Those of us who are free from this word have an obligation to help free up our brothers and sisters. This is not a responsibility of the white man; this is something that the Black community must have the wisdom, courage and fortitude to do for themselves. We may not be responsible for this mess, but it is our responsibility to clean it up.

H. Lewis Smith is the author of Bury that Sucka and the Founder/CEO of United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc.


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January 25, 2007
Issue 214

is published every Thursday.

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