On today's episode of "The View", the ladies had a long discussion on the subject of the "n-word" being edited out of a newly printed edition of a Mark Twain classic...
I strongly agree with Whoopi's position on editing "the n-word" out of the classic Huckleberry Finn. In my opinion, we cannot just go back and retroactively edit works that are considered classics just because our modern culture has (rightfully) disavowed the common use of a certain word used in that book. What’s next…Uncle Tom’s Cabin? The Color Purple? Roots?
And yes, it is the responsibility of parents to explain to their children what this word means, where it comes from and how it was used. It's part of the parental responsibility of teaching your child how to deal with the world we live in. Young children do need to know about this word and the role it has played in our past. They need to know so that they can understand related lessons about acceptance and tolerance, and about how we all need to learn to live together without that sort of ugly rhetoric. The white children need to know so that they will understand that it's a word of ignorance that they should never use unless they wish to be seen as bigots, and the black children need to know how to deal with it if it is thrown at them.
Yes, this is an inflammatory word and we, as a society need to determine how to deal with the matter (since it is equally discriminatory to keep the word in modern culture yet say that only one race CAN use it). If the word is going to be scrubbed from a work of classic literature, then it should also be scrubbed from song lyrics, comedy routines and our modern culture in general. It either needs to be gone or not, but in my opinion having it tottering in limbo between one race constantly using it freely in “artistic expression” while it must be bleeped and scrubbed, even from history, when the speaker is of a different race is simply wrong.
Just like it was wrong when they made a show of reading the Constitution on the floor of the House while leaving out references to slavery or that at one time in our nation’s past, blacks were officially considered only three-fifths of a person.
Personally, my choice would be to make it an obsolete word for all, so that in books either from or about the PAST is the only place you WOULD find it…but I’m not the one who gets to make these calls. I just know that I don’t believe that editing classics, to try to pretend that our past is something other than it was, is the answer.
You can't just erase a word out of history because our history itself is uncomfortable.