The "N" Word
I feel like I am set up to learn a lot about race and acceptance in my future years teaching in
So where do I fit in, the white educator?
Case in point: Today during class I was reading to the group the beginning chapters of River, Cross My Heart, by Breena Clarke. It’s an Oprah’s book club type of book, and it takes place in a black society in
I tried to explain that nigger was only a word, that it only had the power a person allowed it to have. I also mentioned that editing the book in that way because it was offensive was censorship. It was a roadblock to the liberal inside of me; it killed me that a student could be stopped in his tracks because of a word. Sticks and stones, I thought ruefully. How can I, as an educator, explain that making the word nigger taboo by having it referred to as "The N word" only gives it more power? What kills me is that I doubt the issue would have come up if I were black. I’m not part of the club, and I can’t borrow the language even if I’m reading a novel about black people that is written by a black author. My smartest move, in the end, was letting it go. I can’t change what offends someone; I can’t even enlighten them if they don’t want to be.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.