'The N-Word' Has Students Discussing a Sensitive Topic in a Fragile History

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016 at 7:43 PM
'The N-Word' Has Students Discussing a Sensitive Topic in a Fragile History by Cheyenne Majeed
The Black Student Union Association hosted a presentation titled ‘The N-Word.’

Some of the most sensitive topics in today’s world involve digging right to the root of a problem. In a world filled with all different ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and their own way of perceiving things. Everyone is entitled to say whatever they want, but should this freedom account for using the “N Word?”

On Feb. 23, the Multicultural Resource Center, the Black Student Union Association (BSUA) and the Rho Phi Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity hosted “The N-Word,” a discussion at Edinboro University which took place in Compton Hall.

The panelists of the night were assistant chair of counseling, school psychology and special education, Katherine Robbins-Hunt, associate professor Dr. Rhonda Matthews, Edinboro alumni Tony Ratcliff, senior Bradley Hill and historian Johnny Johnson.

Almost every seat was filled in the Compton 107A lecture hall. Regardless of whether these individuals showed up by choice or for extra credit, it made for a successful event.

President of Alpha Phi Alpha and brother, Aaron Taylor, warned those who attended that this would be “an event where you will feel uncomfortable but leave educated.”

The night began where a video clip was played of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, a radio host, saying the n-word repeatedly on air while answering questions from those who called in on the show about the topic being discussed. Though this incident happened nearly six years ago, the derogative meaning of the word is still talked about in society today.

“The word cannot be redefined in today’s society or in our culture alone,” said Matthews as few participants went on to discuss why they choose or choose not to use the word.

There was much to be said throughout the night by the panelists and members in the audience as several other video clips were shown and other questions were sparked.

“We’re not just talking about a word that was used as a racial slur. The word was used in structural power. I don’t care how much you say, ‘Yo my n*gga what’s up?’ [Yet] if a white person walks pass you and they use that word you are upset. You are angry. You are ready to fight,” said Matthews.

Individuals began asking why black people should stop using the n-word just because white people want to use the word as well. This debate led to arguments about our individual cultures and how “white people have suddenly transformed things in black culture into high fashion.”

BSUA member Charay Young said, “Most people don’t see it [the n-word] as something bad because growing up it wasn’t taught [that way]. I think that’s where the disconnect is because the older generation is upset but the younger people feel like, ‘well when I was coming up the word n*gga wasn’t taught to me as something that was bad.’ So the education between their parents, that’s where that thin line is.”

The night came to an end with everyone wrapping up their final thoughts on using the n-word in music, conversation and in daily life. It was brought to everyone’s awareness the diversity filling the room for this event was “the greatest participation Edinboro has received thus far.”

“I’ve been here for five years and this is the first times I’ve seen a mixed crowd speak back and forth,” former Edinboro student trustee, vice president and brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Shaquan Walker said.

Cheyenne Majeed is a Staff Writer for The Spectator.

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