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  • CNN’s Don Lemon: ‘I Encourage People to Use the Word Nigger’

    In the aftermath of the horrific massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, a huge debate is raging in America about whether or not people should or shouldn’t be able to use the word nigger.

    The controversial conversation ignited yesterday after Barack Obama used the word while talking about race in modern America.

    “And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination,” Obama said on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast.

    And during a heated discussion, CNN’s Don Lemon told CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin that he thinks it’s a good thing if more people use the word nigger when talking about race.

    “We should not sanitize that word . . . I don’t think we should bastardize that word, I don’t think it should be used freely in songs over and over again but if you’re using it in the context of a story, and it is relevant you should be able to say it,” Lemon said Monday on CNN.

    “In fact, I encourage people to say it because you should be able to hear the impact of the word,” Lemon added.

    CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin vehemently disagreed with Lemon, she not wanting him or anyone to use the word under any circumstance.

    “As a journalist,” Lemon added, “it is our job to tell the truth and to convey a message, not to sanitize a word.”

    I tend to agree with Don Lemon.

    It is enormously foolish to think that any given society can rid the use of a hurtful or derogatory word. It’s just not possible to police away the use of the word nigger.

    But if you don’t like the word because it is so painfully destructive, you should encourage its use.

    The frequency of a word’s use is closely associate with the potency of its meaning. As I’ve read many linguistic experts and speech advocates, most of the serious work written on the subject of language and speech comes down to a people’s respect for the power that words have and how that power can be used positively.

    The word nigger is not the same as a flag. The Confederate flag is a symbol of slavery, oppression, and bondage.

    The word nigger has, through the years been refashioned and repurposed by many black people and is now a term of endearment for some and a tool of positive expression for others.

    Some people will never say the word. And that’s okay. But the idea of a wholesale ban on the word is ludicrous.

    Teach the young and the ignorant about the history and the transformation of the word nigger. Because for better or for worse–as much as we may not want to admit it and as much as we may want to hide from it–the word nigger is as American as apple pie.


    Jerome Hudson

    Managing Editor

    Jerome Hudson has written for numerous national outlets, including The Hill, National Review, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was recognized as one of Florida’s emerging stars, having been included in the list “25 Under 30: Florida’s Rising Young Political Class.” Hudson is a Savannah, Ga. native who currently resides in Florida.

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