HW for Mon 5/6

HW: 1. Ensure you are ready to present your group’s Essay 2.
2. Read Gloria Naylor’s essay in Packet 2.
3.  A reminder that your revised Essay 1s are due at the final.  Grades will be based on how significantly you have revised (simply correcting small typos and grammar mistakes is not an example of significant revision; rewriting and reorganizing paragraphs IS an example of significant revision).

Writing prompt on Naylor’s text (2 parts—do both!; due Monday 1 pm):

A.) In “A Word’s Meaning Can Often Depend on Who Says It,” author Gloria Naylor explains several of the many different meanings of the “n-word.”  Identify at least 2 of these different meanings and explain them in your own words.  Then connect Naylor’s essay to a story from your own life experience having to do with the “n-word.”

B.) In her essay, Naylor chooses to write out the “n-word” as “nigger.”  Do you find this offensive?  Why or why not?  For you, what are the differences between these three versions of the same word: “n-word,” “nigger,” “nigga”?

24 thoughts on “HW for Mon 5/6”

  1. Part A:

    Quote one: “In the singular, the word was always applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strength, intelligence, or dive: “Did Johnny really do that?” “I’m telling you, that nigger pulled in for $6,000 of overtime last yeah. Said he got enough for a down payment on a house.” (P 87). This quote means that the word nigger for a guy stand for power, their strength, and their smartness. This passage connects to my own life by how one time my friend brother pay for his own tuition for college by working and this shows his drive to work hard to earn money to pay for his own tuition.

     

    Quote Two: “I don’t agree with the argument that use of the word nigger at this social stratum of the black community was an internalization of racism.” (p 88). This quote demonstrates that the word nigger or nigga is an awful word to say in general and especially towards African American because it racists and it’s offensive to African American. This passage connects to my own life because every-time when I pass by teenager, I hear them saying the N word.

    Part B: I find these three N words offensive because it might affect most African American people by making them remember what had happened to them back then. They’re no different in these three N words from my opinion. I just find that these three words are really offensive and its hurtful toward African American.

    1. Thanks for this post, Andy.  Quickly: can we connect your two quotes/responses a bit more in order to understand better what Naylor is saying about the “n-word”?  In your first quote and response you suggest (rightly) that the term is used within Naylor’s family to denote a man with strength and virtue; but then in your response to your second quote, you interpret Naylor as suggesting that the word is “an awful word to say in general.”  There seems to be a tension or contradiction here, and I’m confused about how these two interpretations of the word go together.  Can you explain?

      Thanks.

      By the way, info and images about Gloria Naylor, the writer, are here:

      Gloria Naylor


      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloria_Naylor

    2. I agree with you Andy in the way you think of the n word usage. Its’ really a discriminatory term and too many people have used it out of context and with thinking it’s okay to be using it when it’s hurtful towards African Americans.

    3. Hey Andy,

      I also agree with you, growing up in a place like New York especially you hear people throwing around this word like its nothing. Like you said it is offensive because its a word with a history behind it and it holds a type of symbolism. Because of this, this is a word Ive never used and thrown around like that because it just doesn’t sound right. I feel as if coming from a background every word holds some kind of value no matter what context it is in, and it can be wrong when people manipulate it and use it as their own. For example this is a completely different context but im muslim and we use this word “Wallahi”, it basically means to swear on our gods name. It has become a type of slang now, I hear people that aren’t muslim using this word all the time and I find it disrespectful because they don’t know the actual context behind it and what value it holds to people of the religion.

  2. A) In “A Word’s Meaning Can Often Depend on Who Says it,” the author Gloria Naylor explains different meanings of the “n- word.” Naylor states “I’m telling you, that nigger pulled in $6,000 of overtime last year. Said he got enough for a down payment on a house.” (Naylor 87). In other words, a “nigger” in this context could be referring to a working black male who worked overtime trying to put a down payment on a house.  Naylor also states, “Yeah, that old foreman found out quick enough— you don’t mess with a nigger” (Naylor 87).  I believe that this goes back to my previous comment about the first sentence, in this context “nigger” can be associated with a man of a different color (specifically black). “Nigger” in this context can mean someone who is in a group like a gang or something higher up that people may fear.  A similar story happened to me when I was younger having to do with the “n-word.” I was in elementary school around 10 years old walking home from school and I was passing a group of black males just standing outside a corner when I heard someone say the “n-word.” It was my first time hearing it and didn’t know fully what it meant, at first I thought it was a nickname or something. When I went home, I asked my mom what did “nigger” mean and just like most moms she asked “Where did I hear that word?” I told her a group of people were calling each other that at the corner store. She told me that the “n-word” was a bad word and that I shouldn’t say it.

    B)  I find the word “nigger” offensive because it insults a person of color that was subjected to discrimination and unfair treatment. In my response when someone uses the “n-word” it can be because it can be based on culture which finds the word “nigger” offensive to people of color. When someone uses “nigger” in a sentence depending on how it is used it can be a friend (E.x: “Hey look it’s my nigger Johnny.”), but in a normal sentence the word “nigger” can just simply be referred to a person of color. “Nigga” is more slang than “nigger”, instead of being offensive as “nigga” can refer to a close friend, or just a person. Overall “nigga”can still be offensive based on how it is being used in context.

    1. Great, thoughtful post, Shanice.  Just a couple quick thoughts.  In (A) I really liked how you began the story of your own first public encounter with the “n-word”; I was just wondering about a couple details: could you expand on the thoughts that led you to ask your mother what that word meant after you heard it.  I like how you mention thinking it was just a nickname, but were there other thoughts you had that compelled you to bring it to your mother’s attention?  Also, did your mother explain at all why this was a “bad” word?  Can you expand the details here?
      In B), it seems like you find the “n-word” offensive in some contexts but not others–is that right?
      Thank you,
      M

    2. I share the same sentiments as you when it comes to the word Shanice. It does have more than one meaning to it but even then , we should all be mindful when it comes to using this term.

  3. a)  In “A Word’s Meaning Can Often Depend on Who Says It,” author Gloria Naylor explains the word “n” as ” the word  was always applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strengths, intelligence, or drive”. What Gloria Naylor meant was that they would use the word “nigger” when a man did something important or good. Let’s say they got a new job they would say ” this nigger got a new job”. Another way Gloria Naylor explains the word “n” was ” it became a term of endearment for her husband or boyfriend”. Meaning that they used it when they had a relationship with someone or when they wanted to stay away from someone. 

    b) I find the n word offensive if I’m saying it in a wrong way. The “n-word” I would say is offensive because it symbolize’s the word so you automatically know its bad. The word “nigger” I also find offensive because it just feels like your talking directly about African Americans so it’s just not right to use. I know that I’ve used the word ‘nigga” before like to tell my friend “chill nigga” or “stop nigga” I’ll use it more when I’m mad or to refer to my friends like “that’s my nigga” but I think it just became a slang for us teens before. I don’t use it as much now and I still thinks its offensive. It all depends on what purpose you use it for.

    1. Thanks for this, Melannie.  A quick note about (A): I like the way you follow up the first quotation with a full sentence of explanation (“What Naylor means here is that…”).  Check your next quotation and the response that follows it to make sure your follow-up sentence is complete (currently it isn’t).  Also, once you introduce the author by her full name (Gloria Naylor), you can refer to her thereafter as Naylor (by her last name).

      Most importantly, can you include more context in the anecdotes you tell about your own experience with this word in part (B).  I’d like to get a clearer sense of the story behind your usage of the word with friends, the first time you heard it, etc.

  4. Part A:

    Quote #1: “In their mouths it became the pure essence of manhood – a disembodied force that channeled their past history of struggle and present survival against the odds into a victorious statement of being…”

    Growing up, I’ve always heard discussions and conjectures of why this particular word was used by the in-group, given the racial and demeaning nature and history of the word. However, it’s not all that foreign to me, since people of my descent have adopted the word “coolie,” despite this word also becoming a slur based on who uses it. This quote exemplifies this sentiment exactly, as using the word, specifically by the in-group, signifies being able to spit in the face of those who coined the term: “Try and demean us now, we’re successful and thriving, despite your best efforts.”

    Quote #2:”Parents who neglected their children, a drunken couple who fought in public, people who simply refused to look for work, those with excessively dirty mouths or unkempt households were all “trifling n******.”

    The definition has done a complete 180 here compared to the previous quote. While the first one exemplifies defying historical odds and turning its original purpose on its head, this usage considers groups of these people to be those without self-respect. But as Naylor points out on the next page, black people transformed the word into one that shows that they weren’t a singular group, but “varied and complex human beings they knew themselves to be.” Adopting the word and using it in a negative context is exactly what this shows, that some people have things worked out, while others don’t.

    Connection: I can’t say for certain that I have much experience with the word, as it was something I had learned about early on and knew it was not a word I had the privilege to use. However, I came close to understanding what the stigma felt like when someone called me a “terrorist” for the first time, back when I was just a freshman in high school. Obviously, it doesn’t come anywhere close to having the historical and societal context as the word being discussed, but it made me wonder if that’s how a black person felt when someone called them that word with such disdain. Then when I made my first solo trip abroad, I was selected for “random” screening before returning to the US. Once again, it made me think about that type of discrimination, but I understand that there’s a massive disconnect with my few experiences to what others actually go through.

    Part B:

    I don’t find it offensive because I don’t believe it’s my place to say. It’s a word that is meant for their in-group, and I am not part of it. If this was a question of the word “coolie,” I might have my two cents to put in because I am part of the group of people someone might throw the word at, but that’s not the word in question.

    From my understanding, using the term “n-word” is just a way for people “not allowed to say it” to say it, or to refer to it in formal settings, and can be inferred to be either versions of the word. It’s a supposedly polite way of referring to the word without getting into hot water. As for the version used in the text, I’ve always heard it interpreted as the way someone says it when they want to imply a lot of disdain and contempt for the person on the receiving end. It can be said that there is a significant difference between using this version and the one ending with an “a” because it’s almost always noted when someone “drops a hard ‘r’.” The last version I’ve always heard as the “accepted” version, because it differs from the original word, and is what some black people say among themselves.

    1. What a rigorous post, Zean–thank you.  I’m afraid my response will be rather shallow by comparison, but for starters I’m struck by the following point you make about Naylor’s perspective:

      “…as Naylor points out on the next page, black people transformed the word into one that shows that they weren’t a singular group, but “varied and complex human beings they knew themselves to be.”

      In thinking about the essay for our purposes (the power of re-defining a word in multiple ways), I hadn’t thought about this other purpose of Naylor’s text that you point out here: to demonstrate how complicated and variegated her community is—or, in other words, to show the considerable degrees of difference within communities of color.

      On another note, you now have me interested in more details on “coolie”; to be honest, I’m not so familiar with this term and will have to look it up.  But I was also wondering about the details of your own experience with this word and whether you might expand there.  I’d also be curious to learn more about the story of being called a “terrorist” (how pleasant!) and what sounds like a horrifying experience at airport security.  Perhaps we can discuss more in class–or I’d be glad to see more writing on any of these fronts.

      Bests,

      M

  5. In “A Word’s Meaning Can Often Depend on Who Says It” the author Gloria Naylor gave many definition of what the “n-word” in her essay. One meaning he gave for the “n-word” was “In the singular, the word was always applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval from strength, intelligence, or drive:…”(Naylor pg87).  The meaning I got from this definition is that since the word was always a means to dehumanizing a particular group of people by means of not allowing to read, to be uneducated and not allowing the black man to gain enough capital and assets to live the quote on quote American Dream. Therefore when a black man a “n-word” is able to over come all of that it a accomplishment.

    Another definition the author gave was “ In the plural, it became a description of some group within the community that had overstepped the bounds of decency as a family defined it. Parents who neglected their children, a drunken couple who fight in public, people who simply refuse to look for work, those with excessively dirty mouths  or unkempt households were all “trifling niggers”(Naylor pg87). This simply means that the black community is continuing to divided themselves so instead of the whites calling them the “n-word ” with the hard “er” at the end we are now using toward each to once again to dehumanize each to show one’s better the next.

    Thought out my life so far I have never been call the “n-word” to my face but I don’t know about behind my back but I definitely know the feelings and the looks so in there is really no point in saying the word. I remember walking into a store but looking around and I got a feeling that I was being followed and of course I was right a store employee was near by, this women (white) processes to ask me a like about five times if I needed help and I told her no thank you I`m just looking but didn’t stop her from keeping a close eye on me to the point were I had to leave. With this experience when going shopping in a high end store, or store that don’t cater to people like looks like me color why’s I enter the store with my hands in my pocket, I try not touch a lot, and just the feeling I get when entering certain stores.

    I personal find the word “nigger” to be very offensive because the “er”  at the end I know its coming from a negative place and its meant to be demeaning and to dehumanize a particular race. The difference between the three words is that the “n-word” to me is more appropriate therefore no one will be offended by, the us of the word “nigger” to me is simply to make a particular group of people feel inferior to another, and as for the word “nigga” to me it’s a sense of connection meaning that I may not know you but I know we been through the same struggles as it referred to the colors of our skin and taking a word from a negative place an meaning to making ours having it come from a positive place changing its meaning.

     

    1. Mindy,

      Your breakdown of the n word was interesting because you broke down what you feel regarding both n words. I know both words are racist but we shouldn’t be okay with people using it without knowing the background of the word.

  6. Part A: “So there must have been dozens of times that nigger was spoken in front of me before I reached the third grade. But I didn’t “hear” it until it was said by a small pair of lips that had already learned it could be a way to humiliate me.” That word is extremely loaded. When I hear that word spoken from the tongue of others I feel weird. I used to correct people around me from using it. But after a while I stopped. It felt pointless because others would still use it regardless. And plus, you’ll have to deal with that guilt.
     
    “When used with a possessive adjective by woman—“my nigger–it became a term of endearment for her husband or boyfriend.” It’s like the way my mother’s bf calls her son Gordo. It translates to fatty, or fat. To me this might seem very rude or insensitive. But to my mother’s bf this is him showing his love for his son.
    The article showed me a time period in my life that feels very unrealistic now. Now that I’m in college the idea of my peers not reflecting my background is quite foreign. When I replay those memories in my head it feels as if I’m reading a chapter book.
     
    Part B: I was taken aback when Gloria dropped the -er instead of the a. I was like huh?
    It felt weird reading that. However, I guess back then that’s how it sounded coming out of the mouths of anyone.
    Nigger- It alarms me. It means this person might mean me harm. And it all depends on the way it’s spoken. I feel as if there are levels to racism and that it’s not all the same.
    You can have your standard run of the mill redneck. Maybe a liberal who feels so close to black culture that they should be allowed to “sing-a-long.” There’s people who unleash that word when they are offended: Let’s say you’re winning an argument. Someone might take out the sneak attack to win. There’s also those who get off on it. Check out Childish Gambino’s or Donald Glover’s comedy.)
    Nigga- used by pretty much everyone imaginable. Should it be? Absolutely, Not. Is it going to be:  Quite frankly, yes. Entitlement and normalization are to thank for this.
    I spent so much of my energy fighting this that I don’t dwell on it anymore. But my ears, definitely, do perk up when I hear it used.
     
    N-word: It’s a mouthful. Used to spread political correctness. It’s used by others who are tip-toeing in boundaries or uncomfortable in a situation.
     

  7. Part I
     
    Two ways Naylor explained the different meanings of the word “nigger” was: 1.) “In the singular, the word was always applied to a ,an who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strength, intelligence, or drive”. Meaning a black man that knew his self worth and what he was capable of doing and what he “brought to the table”— making him a Man, no matter if white supremacist didn’t think he was/is a Man equal to them.
    2.) “When used with a possessive adjective by a woman— “my nigger”— it became a term of endearment for her husband or boyfriend.” It’s like when Spanish or white girls say “my man” and are speaking highly of their significant other in a possessive way— of that person being theirs.
     
    I’ve been called a “nigga” by a white kid in high school. He didn’t mean it as “nigger” to offend me but as in “my nigga” like “ yo bro” as kids say today, but because he wasn’t of my skin color, background or struggle I felt as if he had no right to use that word. I remember picking up the closest textbook and smacking him with it because I was so offended and felt like he was low key racist hanging out with a bunch of black kids so he can later talk shit about us to his people— family and friends. I ended up getting in trouble because I went further trying to pick a desk up and throw it at him after yelling at the teacher “He fucking called me a nigger and your racist ass is just standing there looking fucking dumb”. I ended up in “in-house” detention for a day.
     
    Part II
     
    At first, I was a little offended because the “er” at the end is so much harsher. It reminds me of times I’ve been in racial arguments, or had people tell me if I lived back in those days I would’ve probably been a house “nigger”, or how they would’ve raped and killed me because of my mouth and attitude. But as I read on, the “pain” of reading that word became less and less due to her explanations of how she interpreted the word during its various uses amongst her family and family friends conversations she overheard. Reminded me of my mother’s mother talking back in the days about “ them niggers in the projects who weren’t shit”.
    To me when a person says “n-word” I feel like “Bitch you trying to be racist!” but they’re too scared to actually say “nigger” not knowing the outcome of it… whether they “finna” (about to) get they ass beat, fired, suspended without pay, or getting they ass beat!
    When someone uses the word “nigger” I automatically think “oh so your whole family is the KKK and y’all think Trump is going to save y’all, I’m STILL BEATING YOUR ASS!! This “nigger” isn’t ignorant, lazy, uneducated, or “never-want-to-get-ahead-in-life”.
    “Nigga”— I honestly use this word every day, whether I’m telling someone off, or talking to a friend or my sister. This is a term of endearment for me, I do say “my nigga” when referring to my daughters father or a friend.

    1. I also agree with what Naylor says as far as defining the word “nigger” and that version of the person would be lazy, always finding an excuse, “parents who neglected their children, a drunken couple who fought in public, people who simply refused to look for work…” as Naylor put it in her essay. No one wants to be associated with that type of “nigger” or person period.

  8. PART A:
     In the passage  “A Word’s Meaning Can Often Depend on Who Says It,” written by  Gloria Naylor , Naylor explains the word “n word” is “applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strengths, intelligence, or drive”. What Gloria Naylor means from the quote stated above is was that the word “nigger” is used towards a person more towards a man when he had done something successfully. Another way Gloria Naylor explains the “n word” is that “it became a term of endearment for her husband or boyfriend”. What the quote is explaining is that the term is used within a relationship with someone.
    b) I personally find the “n-word” not the most attractive word, to me, I find it extremely offensive and just disgusting. Throughout high school and my middle school years I would also hear people saying it to each other like “whats up nigga” or “my nigga” and it would just sound so odd. I would question myself like they must feel so cool using a racial term slang term towards each other as if it has no meaning behind it.

  9. Part A: “So there must have been dozens of times that nigger was spoken in front of me before I reached the third grade. But I didn’t “hear” it until it was said by a small pair of lips that had already learned it could be a way to humiliate me.” Humiliate is a word that impacts in a huge way“

  10. Part A: “So there must have been dozens of times that nigger was spoken in front of me before I reached the third grade. But I didn’t “hear” it until it was said by a small pair of lips that had already learned it could be a way to humiliate me.” Humiliate is a word that impacts in a huge way“

  11. Part A: “So there must have been dozens of times that nigger was spoken in front of me before I reached the third grade. But I didn’t “hear” it until it was said by a small pair of lips that had already learned it could be a way to humiliate me.” Humiliate is a word that impacts in a huge way“

  12. Part B: From my part the n word has become a word where too many people nowadays tend to use all the time in their everyday language.  I really never found myself saying it when I speak or through a text. But I know that most people texting a friend , it mostly does come out or even social media. I feel like the word withholds prejudice and too many people have been using it too much that some think that that word still doesn’t hold it’s meaning and if they say it out loud , “it’s in a friendly way’ and I don’t agree with that because it was formed as a racial term and too many people have brought it out of hand now.

  13. Two ways Naylor explained the different meanings of the word “nigger” was “In the singular, the word was always applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strength, intelligence, or drive”. Meaning a black man that knew his self worth and what he was capable of doing is what makes him a Man, no matter if white supremacist didn’t think he was a Man equal to them. In other words black people have transformed the word into one that shows that they weren’t a singular group, but “varied and complex human beings they knew themselves to be.” However Parents who neglected their children, a drunken couple who fought in public, people who simply refused to look for work, those with excessively dirty mouths or unkempt households were all “trifling n******.” This connotation of the word in this context is used in a more negative way and considers groups of these people to be those without self-respect.

    I find the word “nigger” offensive depending on the context because it insults a person of color that was subjected to discrimination and unfair treatment. In my opinion when someone who isnt african america uses the “n-word” it can be considered offensive due to the history behind the word. When african americans uses “nigga” in a sentence it is usally in a more posistive connotation. “Nigga” is more slang than the term “nigger”. Instead of being offensive “nigga” can refer to a close friend, or just a person. I myself use the word nigga all time among my friends because as was said in the passage “black people have transformed the word”.

  14. A. In the passage  “A Word’s Meaning Can Often Depend on Who Says It,” written by  Gloria Naylor, the author explains the word “n-word” is “applied to a man who had distinguished himself in some situation that brought their approval for his strengths, intelligence, or drives”. This quote that  Gloria Naylor refers to was that the word “nigger” is used to a person that is male that is worthy of something or knows his worth.
    Another quote from Naylor explains the “n-word” is that “it became a term of endearment for her husband or boyfriend”. This quote is explaining that the “N-word” is used within a relationship with someone such as boyfriend/husband.
     
    B. As a guy, I grew up people saying “nigga” which was basically saying “bro”. But the word “nigger” is definitely offensive because it is basically being racist because you most likely target African Americans. Growing up in NYC the word “nigga” is so common, almost everyone says it and it’s like persons daily vocabulary. The “n-word” nowadays is referred to as “nigga”. The words have the same sound the same but it basically has a different effect to it if it ends with an “r”.
     

  15. N word I get know when my friends tells my that was describe a black person and I don’t know it’s a bad word that can hurt the people that been call that way.

    N word  My friend explain to me that N word was a good word before it become a bad word. It means to have people play around together.

     

    B I think everyone can be offensive by be call some kind of disregardful  word. N-word not want to say the full word by let other know what they is talking about. Nigger are seem more often by other race talking to a black person and nigga are more like a joke word for black people to swag. But all those word can get you to problem if you are in some community.

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