No Defense for Webster’s “N” Word – Use with To Kill a Mockingbird
One of the most difficult aspects of teaching To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and having to deal with how to approach the “n” word in your classroom. Here is an excellent article written by Earl Ofari Hutchinson on the subject.
I hope you and your students can find your own comfort within your classroom on how to deal with this issue.Perhaps no word in the English language stirs more passion and outrage among blacks than the word “n——r,” or its politely sanitized version, the “N” word. It’s happened again. This time the offender is not a loose-lipped politician, celebrity, or athlete. It is none other than one of the bibles of the English language, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. The dictionary is now the target of a national campaign by some black academics, local NAACP chapters, and Emerge magazine. They claim that Webster’s redefinition of the word “n——r” racially stigmatizes blacks and other nonwhites. They have a point. In the 1996 edition of Webster’s, “n——r” is defined as “a black person—usually taken to be offensive.” It went even further and applied the word to “a socially disadvantaged person.” It’s easy to see the danger in Webster’s redefinition. One could easily infer that the word “n——r” refers exclusively…. READ MORE