The new edition of
And yet I haven’t read Twain’s original or the “sanitized” (PG?) version. Have any of you? Nor do I have children and so I don’t have to think about what a certain age can and should be exposed to. By the time I get them, I tend to think college age students should learn everything that they can absorb and rarely soften the past for them. I do worry when (usually whites) students tend to start talking about blacks in the past solely as victims or when students cannot connect the violence of the past to today. Or even when students miss how much of the racial violence happened blatantly but also in a day to day way that made it mundane and expected, if not still evil. It’s easy to think the past was a totally different place, with much more evil people, if you miss the mundane.
Douglas Curt Lyons asks on H-Afro-Am why we can’t interrogate the use of the word instead of never even saying it. I want my next article (after I have turned my dissertation research into the different books it can become) to be about the development and eventual replacement of the word “negro.” In particular I’m curious about what kind of symbolic work the phrase “the Negro” did, making it seem as if all blacks had a singular voice, but also who used it, in what circumstances, and how it compared to other singular labels. Perhaps I am taking the less inflamatory route by ignore “Negro’s” more incendiary cousin?
On the Media plays an interesting replay of a story done by a second generation American of Sierra Leone descent, interviewing friends and strangers in New York City about the use of the “n word” (it was strictly outlawed in her house, but she has had to deal with it among hip hop fans).
A fantastic (and really, I mean this, all of you need to go read it) essay by a black professor meditating on teaching all white students and their reluctance to say the “n-word” in front of her, and whether or not she really wanted them to, is Emily Bernard’s “Teaching the N Word.” Seriously, go, read it. I’ll wait. Ok, a little snippet to whet your philsophy stone:
“IT’S NOT THAT I can’t say it, it’s that I don’t want to. I will not say it,”
Sarah says. She wears her copper red hair in a short,
smartstyle that makes her
look older than her years. When she smiles I remember how young she is. She is
not smiling now. She looks indignant. She is indignant because I am insinuating
that there is a problem with the fact that no one in the class will say
“nigger.” Her indignation pleases me.
And then come back and watch what our contemporary
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
*Edited after Stephen’s comment.