Racial Slur or Term of Endearment

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Maxime Medina Intro to Sociology Article Review #2 December 2, 2009 Racial Slur or Term of Endearment? The word “nigger” or “nigga” has been a slang word used as early as the time of slavery in our country and has since lost its denotation of disrespect and hatred towards blacks. I have friends who say the word “nigga” as a term of endearment or in casual conversation. On the other hand you can have someone use this word and have it be negative and racist. Many different people use this slang word everyday, but who or what determines if we can or can’t say a particular word? According to Geoff Harkness, these rules of determining if you can say the n-word is based on its context and one’s position in the racial hierarchy, with blacks being on top, whites on the bottom and non-black ethnic minorities falling somewhere in between. (40) Wondur, a Chicago- based black rapper states, “If some Spanish dude is like ‘nigga this,’ ‘nigga that,’ I don’t think he’s thinking, ‘you a nigga, and I’m a higher species. Whereas you hear that shit out of a white dude’s mouth, it goes right back to where it came from.” (41) So it seems that it is acceptable for Latinos to use the n-word because its as if they are equals with blacks ethnically. Although Sonny Black, a Latino rapper, suggests, “If you ‘hood’ you can say it… If you hood, you got passes,” (42) basically stating that it doesn’t matter what race you are. As long as you come from this “hood” background you can say the n-word and it doesn’t really matter. Gangster rap is the most popular place where the word “nigga” is used. “Sociologist Andy Bennett argues that within subcultures, there is more room for adaptation then these set restrictions. He says that the hip hop culture and its associated themes of authenticity, are changing as a variety of youth groups throughout the world adopt it.” It is

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