Something I meant to air out, but never got around to. The “N” word, redux.

03-26-2007, Time Magazine, "10 Questions for Chris Rock"

There has been a lot of hoopla surrounding the N word recently. Are you ever going to stop using it? Nyamisi Muindi, BUFFALO, NEW YORK

Will I stop using the N word? I won't even say "the N word." Will I stop saying "nigger"? Nope, not me. Never. I'll stop using it in church. Is that O.K.?


I post this in part because of the website linked to a comment made with this blog entry that was tangantly-related to the Don Imus controversy, but centered around a particularly strange moment when the word was used.  I had thought I heard that Chris Rock was one of the celebrities who, at the time of the Michael Richards controversy (more closely related to the controversial word, as he used the word and Imus only had a stated policy of when and where his on-air team did “n–er jokes”, hence we get the racial stereotypes and slurs, but not that word) — made a commitment that, no, the word is tarnished.  That seemed out of character for Chris Rock, but then again his big influence, Richard Pryor, had an epiphany and stopped using the word that had been a staple of his stand up career.  Nay, I look into it — starting simply with the website provided for me and going back to that Time Magazine feature– and see that Chris Rock continues with its prominent use in his stand-up.  Which is his prerogative.

Thinking about the word , and its current use and line of defense in terms of generational divides, and attempting to formulate the reason for my aversion to it– the best I can say is that it shows an irreverent attitude toward history.  The worst I can say is that it shows an ignorance toward history.  Either way, it’s a little too a-historical for comfort.

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