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N-Side of the N-Word explains the history of the N-Word

Jamarius Russell

Do you know someone who is not a person of color and they think they can use the N-word? Springfield College student Luther Wade has one answer for them. Don’t.  

Hosting arguably one of the most important events this week, Wade made a powerful impact on many people with his beliefs in Saturday’s “N-Side of the N-Word” SEAT at the Table event.

With almost eighty people in attendance, he made strong cases about why nobody but African Americans should be the only people to use the N-word. Wade also goes into depth about where the word stems from and how Black people use it in a less negative way. 

Growing up in a suburban area, Wade recalls moments where he has heard this derogatory word come from non black people as early as the fifth grade. As a young kid, hearing that word is tough especially when one does not know the full context of where the word stems from and its historical significance. He also takes a personal route, saying that he does not use the word around his dad in respect because his father does not like the word. 

An interesting topic Wade brought up is the use of the ‘Black card’. This essentially gives white people the pass to use the N-word, but a Black person can only give it to them. The whole concept of a ‘Black card’ is widely argued throughout the black community for many reasons.

In today’s world, the N-word is not thought of in a bad way. Yes, the historical significance is there, but the younger generation uses the term very loosely. When you compare how it is used between yourself and your grandparents, the context is tremendously different. For younger people, it can be a term of endearment for our friends or relatives. But to them, it brings back a time of racism and segregation. 

“That word is specific to Black culture,” Wade said on why nobody but the African American community should say the N-word.

The mother of Luther Wade brought up a huge topic that flew over everyones head.

She notes that “ Our people (black people) took the negative and made it positive.” Meaning  that the negative connotation derived from the N-word has been turned into a positive in the black community. Also because of black people turning the word positive, the white people want to be a part of it even though it is because of their ancestors that it took so long for the word to become  a positive throughout  the community. 

Wade gave the viewers historical context on the word and where it comes from.

“It comes from the roots of European and Spanish languages… it’s always been used to describe Black individuals.”

The history lesson he gave the audience was key because a lot of people do not know these things and there’s always room to take in more knowledge. There was also a mention of the different endings of the word. The  difference between the ‘a’ and ‘er’ ending of this word is significant.

The ‘er’ ending just should not be said at all. That is one of the  most disrespectful words you can say. It is essentially a spit in the face to  whoever it is said to. While the ‘a’ ending is less harmful, it still stems from the  same word and should not be used unless you have been generationally affected by it. 

Luther Wade is a firm believer that the N-word is not a word anyone can say.

“We need to be responsible and understand the implications of using that word, who it impacts how it impacts, because once it’s out there it’s out there,” Dr. Shone said. The event gave insight as to why this word should not be said by white people, and why Black people should be more vocal when they hear white people say it. Because at the end of the day, “We  cannot hide the fact that we’re Black.”

Photo: Office of Multicultural Affairs

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