The “N” Word…

I promised to share stories our MLK keynote speaker Ms. Lynda Blackmon Lowery shared with us at lunch last Monday. The following powerful story was about language and the time her Daddy took her, a very excited young girl to go buy a new pair of shoes. As they entered the shoe store she was holding her Daddy’s hand with him towering above her…

The buccolic scene quickly changed as a young white girl approached them not much older than herself, stared up at Ms. Lowery’s Daddy and matter of factly asked him “What do you want n…..? It was at this point in the story Ms. Lowery’s eyes welled up as she continued explaining the change she saw in her Daddy’s frame and eyes. A look she will never forget. A mixed look of hurt and anger. The use of the ‘n’ word cut immediately to his core. He said nothing, tightened his grip on her little hand and they left. They never spoke of it. Yet some 6 decades later that day still carries so much weight.

Ms. Lowery’s story had a visceral effect on me. I continued eating but let me tell you each bite didn’t go down easily. I grew up in the South and learned at a very early age there were certain words you never used and one of those was the ‘N’ word. Later I would learn the ‘history’ of denigration the ‘N’ word carried. To this day I have never used it. It wasn’t ever used in a kind way. It carried a tone of white supremacy and if I hear it used from a white mouth, it makes me think less of the person using it. It is always considered offensive when used by a ‘white’ person. The racial slur reveals volumes of years of slavery.

I know there’s controversy regarding its usage and that a diminutive form ending in ‘ga is considered an endearing term. Ms. Lowery doesn’t feel the word should be used by anybody. Not rappers, youth, nobody…

As the Crosby Stills & Nash lyrics say: Teach your children well…

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