People get offended by many things other people do. Sometimes it just bothers someone, or sometimes it can be offensive. But what is socially acceptable and what isn’t? Where is the point of no return where someone should stop? Who and why is someone so entitled to be offended? Why is it so Important? Words can hurt many people and people have become so attached to many words that it’s become a problem in our society. People don’t know when to stop and when it starts, it’s difficult to go back. Words have such a big impact and “The effect, for all I know, has lasted a lifetime.”
I found that the n word has become a very sensitive topic and confusing because of the public’s view on when the word is allowed to be used. The n word was originally derived from the Spanish word negro, then the word was abused mostly in the United States where the word turned into a racist insult used against black people. Over time, fewer people have decided to use this word as it is seen to be not socially acceptable because of its racist past, but society has come to an agreement that the racist slur can be justifiably used when a black person uses the word (usually used with an a ending which is more socially acceptable instead of a hard r ending). Now, the public commonly sees the n word in songs sung and usually composed by black people. But because of the use of this word in today’s pop culture, the word has gotten a lot of attention when it is used incorrectly.
Pop culture, which its target demographic is normally geared towards a younger audience, has a big impact on society and how social norms are created. Because of how popular pop culture has gotten and how it has been integrated in daily life, people are shown many different topics: like songs. Some of these popular songs also include words like the n word that are repeated frequently. The repetition makes the n word seem normalized and because of how many songs are using the word, the familiarity of the word is increased which to some people, makes the word more acceptable to use (when it isn’t). Listeners are getting the wrong impression of the word unknowingly and this makes the usage of the word worse. Their minds “generally base..ideas on what is available” and those songs stuck in their head will eventually be said out loud. Many people want to sing these songs and having to constantly censor yourself is tiring. Inevitably people will say the word and when that happens, it often becomes a habit.
Many non-black celebrities, sometimes slip and say the n word. Sometimes on purpose to be offensive, or just habitually when a song is played. And because of how frequently the media likes to showcase these stories, information of the word gets familiarized and spread even more. Which isn’t necessarily bad, but it gets confusing when some black artists are constantly using the word while other people with a different race are shamed for doing the same thing.
Other artists are also being shamed for wrong reasons. There are times when different artists will be ridiculed for saying a word in their language that sounds similar to the n word. In Korean the word I in English is pronounced as 내가(naega) which is closely pronounced to the n word with an a ending. These lyrics are misheard and especially rappers are confronted when their lyrics are misinterpreted.
A Korean boy group sub unit 3racha garnered attention when they had been said to be using a replacement word for the n word. In one of the lyrics to their song “-+.-” it states, “when the real ninjas die the fake ninjas are going to multiply”(3:11). Which was a line used from ASAP Rocky’s song “Multiply” where the original line instead used the n word. The artist couldn’t personally discuss the topic at the time because he was still a trainee and had no social media or say in the matter so instead, people came out on social media to explain that the artist used the word ninjas as an unofficial fandom name which is seen to be used in his other songs. After a while, one of the members had to deal with another controversy also dealing with the n word. However this time, the situation was more serious because the member used the n word and other racist slurs in one of his pre-debut songs. The member later came out with an apology.
I found this statement to be quite intriguing because of how he started off the apology by saying he was 13 at the time when he wrote the song. Which he later states is inexcusable because he still said the word. But the fact that he was a young trainee who was longing to become an artist and because of that, he tried to emulate the songs he had heard during that time is baffling to me. Yes it was his fault that he said the word but why? He wanted to be like the artist that he’s heard and seen so many times. His habit of hearing these types of songs with racial slurs stuck with him to the point where at that time he thought that it was normal and cool.
People are being misinformed about these racial slurs and because they are being used so regularly by the public and influential artists, they are getting the wrong impression. If it is such an offensive word then why are people still using it? With or without the a or hard r ending it causes too many problems and people are getting hurt from these misunderstandings. Young people and even children are getting a bad influence because of all these songs and for what? Art? Or because it rhymes with another word? If it offends so many people then why use the word? Children in America are educated about its history and how not to say it from a young age but the n word gets used so often that it seems to children that it doesn’t differ to any other cuss word. This makes the “impression made on them… fleeting”. Now I don’t think people should just forget about the word. The n word still holds a great importance in history but I don’t think the word should be used anymore by anyone. It has lost its significance and is being handled with terrible care. People are throwing around the word without any thought and the original negative connotation of the word gets misinterpreted. The n word is offensive, it hurts others, and it shouldn’t be used. The original meaning of the word somehow seems irrelevant and important at the same time. So why should this confusing word still be used?