As a result of reading Changeseeker's post on her blog about a site called AbolishTheNWord (Caution: The intro may not be work-friendly), I decided to air my thoughts about the site here. It's clear to me that this group has good intentions. However, I just don't agree with their campaign. While I do understand that hearing the n-word causes pain to some, I do not think that makes it a term that should never be used except in regards to historical matters. This group states that it shouldn't even be used in art. Now even if other uses are debatable, there is simply no way that I could ever go along with this campaign because of this part of their stance. The authors reminisce about a time when rap songs didn't use the n-word. However, I have different memories of that time period. I remember rap/hip hop artists who eagerly objectified and degraded women with almost no protest even from those who considered themselves to be "enlightened" black folk.
Part of the reason why this group claims that people shouldn't use the n-word is because elders would view it as a slap in the face and any use of it constitutes blatant disrespect for our ancestors. Well, who are they to decide what our ancestors would approve of? None of my ancestors gave them any authority to speak on their behalf. Furthermore, while the unnamed authors claim that the word can not be reappropriated, such reappropriation is already taking place. If it were not, then the very things that they complain about (e.g. it being used as a term of endearment, a greeting, etc.) would not occur at all.
The authors have decided, sans proof, that the term was created by slave masters when in reality, that is not an established fact. The truth is, no one knows who was the first to use it but the evidence points to the fact that it came from a word that was a relatively neutral descriptive term for dark(er) skinned people. Now, if someone feels that the fact that it was used by slavemasters is enough reason for them not to use it, then that's fine with me. However, I don't see that as any reason why others should change their own views about the word.