Public Service Announcement: STOP SAYING THE N-WORD

In case you didn’t get the memo, read on.

Photo by Johnnie Lynch

When I began my college experience at USC, I thought white people (or any nonblack person) would know not to say the N-word, or at least realize that there is a social stigma with saying it. But, no. Many students believe it is OK to say it because we have 21 Savage or Rae Sremmurd performing at homecoming and the N-word is in their lyrics. NEWSFLASH! Those artists are black, and it’s not disrespectful when they repeat it. 

Tragically, I had to hear one of my journalism teachers utter this word. She was, in fact, Caucasian. In her class, she would play music just to give us a little variety among our own personal music library. Once, after she played a tune and it was about time to start class, the professor began talking about what she didn’t like to hear on the radio. It was something along the lines of, “I get tired of hearing bitch, n*gga, hoe.” The class fell silent. We all knew that what she had said was wrong, but it seemed as though that didn’t register with her. 

After our awkward silence, she nonchalantly went on to teach. However, my mind was not on the lesson plan. My mind was racing. I was wondering, should I curse her out in front of everyone? Should I disrupt the class? Should I go straight to the dean? Overall, my patience superseded me and I waited until the end of class to confront her. While there were only three black people in the room, including myself, I really think that I was the only one to say anything. I politely went up to her and said, “Out of respect for me, could you not say the N-word?” And she was fair about my comment, saying she was stating how bad it was that she said it and how she doesn’t like hearing it. So that was that. At that moment, I was satisfied with the answer, but, at the end of the day, she should have known better. 

This incident happened last semester, and society has not changed since then. And because society is like this, I would sometimes prepare myself for a situation as such. A black male student said that last spring in Bates West, he overheard some white males saying the N-word. Consequently, he had to let them know not to repeat it. What that black student did should not have to have happened because that creates a hostile environment for black people on campus. It’s like what Rapper Ice Cube said about the issue: “It’s been used as a weapon against us by white people, and we are not going to let it happen again by nobody because it’s not cool.” If about 4,000 people on campus feel the need to defend themselves constantly against a word that you could simply filter, then why not just do that? 

Regardless of if your significant other is black, you don’t get to say it. Not matter how many African American musicians you may listen to, you cannot say it. No one cares about how many black children you grew up with, you should not say the N-word. Period.