Using the N slur out loud in class is unacceptable and inappropriate


Joshua Burgos

While the N-slur can have an important role in literature, there is no place for it to be spoken in a classroom.

My non Black classmate just dropped a racial slur, yet no one said anything. Looking around, I felt shocked. I understood we were reading a play, but it was still disrespectful. Five minutes later, my entire class was laughing at a joke with the classmate who dropped the slur.

I kept trying to figure out why. Why did they feel the need to say a slur in front of the whole class? Why is it so hard to not read a slur? Why did no one, not even the teacher correct them? Why do I now feel like I have to speak up about it when none of my classmates feel the same?

The next day, I confront the issue and explain my distress to my class. My teacher decides that we won’t be saying and/or reading the N slur aloud in class. Thirty minutes later, the slur is used again, but this time it’s my teacher who says it.

This time, the class reacts. People look around, shocked. The class was silent, only a few hushed whispers heard. The Black girl sitting next to me immediately looked at me, and I immediately looked at her. After I had just brought up how I felt uncomfortable with non Black people using the slur, it was said again. I might as well have worn a big red nose, white face paint, and a red wig. I felt humiliated and silly. While I normally keep to myself, I had built up the courage to not hide my distress, only to feel like I accomplished nothing.

No teacher should think it’s acceptable to say a slur just because it’s in literature. It may be meaningful in the story, but it is not your place to say it. Not only is it easier to skip over the word, but it also prevents any distress that could come with saying the slur.

There is a long and negative history behind the N slur. The inhumane way Black people were treated during the hundred of years of enslavement. The destruction of Black Wall Street and the dozens who got murdered. The Jim Crow laws, which were made to discriminate against Black people. The Black death and police brutality that is frequently shown in media.

Saying the slur was, and will always be completely unnecessary. While no one has the right to dictate whether Black people should be allowed to say the slur, having non Black people use it is uncalled for and disrespectful in any context. To use the slur and treat it like it’s just a word means to erase the history behind it.

While adding Black literature to the curriculum is a good thing, it shouldn’t come at the expense of anyone’s comfort. How are students supposed to read stories that include Black people and are about Black issues when there are other students who feel that it’s okay to read racial slurs out loud? Why am I met with more defiance from my peers than the person who said the slur?

Living in such a diverse area is truly a beautiful thing, but it becomes questionable when some students and teachers feel comfortable enough to say slurs that they should not say. There is too much tolerance when it comes to this, and it is frustrating having to frequently address this when no one else seems to. Helping others understand why this is unacceptable should never feel like a strain, but instead a positive step in making school a trust filled environment.

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