The Degradation of Humans through Terminology

Aaron M. Wilson
UML Student

The English language is a very interesting one to say the least; it has approximately 1,025,109 words according to the Global Language Monitor. Many of these words have a purpose, while others are ones that we coined over the last several decades. Naturally, some of these words or phrases that most of the American populous have coined are slang. And yet, one of the most infamous of these words that have been coined is one that is thrown around daily like a baseball—the abbreviated form of the “n” word.

Now let’s define the word “nigger.” According to Dictionary.com, it is “a contemptuous term used to refer to a black person.” This word was originally derived from both the French and Spanish languages from circa 1640-50. It continued to be used even during slavery time to degrade the black people, who were brought to America via slave ships. These same black people were forced to tend to fields and amongst other things that the white slave owners forced them to do; and if they refused, possible outcomes would consist of being whipped, branded, or even killed. Therefore,  this is that this word is not one that should be just tossed around like it is here on campus. Granted, I have heard this word used more than once since school has started and I have also heard it used even off of campus. I have grown up hearing this word and I find it to be sickening that people do not know the true history behind it.

Some have claimed that they know the history of the word, but say that the abbreviated version of the word to “nigga” is acceptable to say the least and it is used to refer to a person that is a friend of theirs, which in my opinion, amongst those of an older generation, is ignorant to say the least. Ask yourselves a question—do you ever hear anyone of other ethnicities using derogatory words about their own ethnicities to describe themselves?

The “n” word may be harmless to some, like they say piracy is a victimless crime, however it actually is not. As stated earlier, behind both versions of that word are the historical horrors that not many within this generation are aware of. The fact of the matter is that the majority of this generation has received little or no education on this word. Now do not get me wrong, people are free to say what they please, however when saying a certain word or phrase, people should really ask themselves—am I using this word in the right context? In previous generations, it was considered horrendous to call someone the n-word, and now it seems to be fine and dandy to call someone that word. I learned at a very young age that word is not acceptable, having been called both versions of the “n” word growing up. If the people within this generation took the time to understand the context of the “n” word, then maybe they will think twice about using it the next time they are conversing with others.

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