Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. I remember this rhyme from my childhood. I don’t know its origins, but as a black child born during the mid-1960s, I wonder if it was used to shield marginalized people from the taunts and stings of racism. Nice as it sounds, the Book of Wisdom, Proverbs, has something very different to say about the impact of words. Proverbs 15:4 says “A deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
The “N” word is contemptuous, signifies black inferiority and rejection and was inflicted upon blacks. It seems that some non blacks didn’t get the memo on this. It seems also that some blacks, nowadays have reclaimed and embraced the “N” word, dropping the ‘er’ and adding an ‘a.’ Doing this, somehow, changes its meaning from one of utmost disrespect to one of utmost regard? “Brother” reclaimed as “Brotha” and “Sister” reclaimed as “Sistah” are still terms of endearment. To this end, dropping the ‘er’ from the “N” word and replacing it with an ‘a’ does not change its meaning.
The “N” word, no matter who utters it, no matter the reasons one utters it, is still synonymous with contempt and disrespect!