The n-word is completely a black and white issue-either it is used in
a derogatory manner or it's academic research. We have chosen to publish a small portion
of the latter, beginning on page 34.
I am thoroughly convinced that the nword is tied
desperately to our future. If we consciously eliminate its use from our
personal lives, we then begin a movement of self-respect that will lead
to greater self-worth that will lead us to better value one another that
will morph into reversing the gruesome statistics that we are faced with
today. Statistics like these: only 41% of Black men graduate from high
school. Sixty-nine per cent of Black children cannot read at grade level
in the 4th grade. Black men earn 67% of what white men earn. Blacks
account for only 12% of the U.S. population, but 44% of all prisoners.
One in three Black men between the ages of 20 and 29 is under
correctional supervision or control. More than 1.4 million Black men out
of a total voting population of 10.5 million have lost their right to
vote due to felony convictions. Black people make up only 3.2 of
lawyers, 3% of doctors and less than 1% of architects in America.
These are statistics printed by the Black Star
Project that sponsored the first Death to the n word funeral (see pages
34-38). A large part of our self concept-and how we view each other- is
wrapped up in the n-word. The funeral re-enforced this concept for me,
provided these awful statistics and gave me new zeal. Rob DZ, an
artistic rapper, said "when you say 'whasup n-word,' you limit that
person's potential." I had not thought about that, Rob. Thanks.
The n-word funeral has such import that articles have
been published in the Wisconsin State Journal, USA Today, Boston Herald,
St. Louis-Post Dispatch and the Arizona Republic, all of which can be
accessed through the internet. You can join the movement, too, by
self-pledging never to use the n-word again.
is not easy for me to publish articles on the n-word, a word that
completely disgraces our ancestors.
It has been a weighted
decision--an emotional roller coaster and intellectual crossroads for me. I
am both embarrassed and troubled by the fact that we have to launch a
campaign against the n-word in 2006, well into the fourth century of its
Embarrassed because the enemy is us. This is a dose of internal
poison, ingested in our every day lives, digested from the irrational
beliefs of those who hated us and easily passed on to one another as a
form of self-hatred. This word is publicly displayed in our life every
single day. Others feel embarrassed, also. One person asked me not to
include a specific event in this issue. "I don't want to be in the
n-issue," she said.
Charles Hill, gifted with a rare intellect whom I
first met in Italy, tells the story of a Black man who saw his mother
being kicked across the street by a white man while calling the son and
the mom the n-word. Pained and grieved, the son felt helpless. "It is
this sense of helplessness that we give to one another with the n-word,"
says Charles. Troubled because it's as much a part of white life as
ours, especially in private conversations. However, there are public
displays. The largest search engines in the world show that there are
nearly 5 million articles to the n-word on the internet. Most of the
references are in the form of sick, sick jokes. The jokes are far too
graphic to publish examples in this magazine. A small number of those 5
million references provides insight into the history, etymology and
glaring examples of how this word has been glorified in commercial
products, even one called n-hair manufactured in Milwaukee just a few