Have you heard the reports that two men have edited the Mark Twain Classic Novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and removed the word Nigger and replaced it with Slave?
I admit, it isn’t an easy word for me to type. I find it completely offensive. In fact, I don’t listen to much of Richard Pryor’s stand up because he uses that word. I love me some D.L. Hughley and I cringe every time it crosses his lips.
And, I am white. I mean I am whiter than white. I am pale, burn in the sun white. I am a black person’s nightmare – where they dream that they woke up white and they discover it isn’t cool white, it is nerd white. And, when I do the white woman happy dance, my black friends just shake their heads and wonder how I manage to dress myself in the morning.
So, I’m not going to say something stupid, like some of my best friends are black, because – well, it isn’t true. I have some close black friends and some not so close black acquaintances. But, if you looked at all the pictures of my Facebook friends, you would see a whole lot of vanilla before you ran across chocolate.
You won’t hear me say the word Nigger. I think in my adult life it might’ve crossed my lips maybe four, five times – all in the context of a conversation and never yelled at someone.
And, yet, I don’t want the word removed from Huck Finn. I don’t see the point. Is it a hurtful word? Yes, it is. Did Mark Twain mean for it to be hurtful? I don’t believe so, I believe that he was merely using the right word for the time in which he wrote the novel.
If we remove a word from history, then we lose something. I’m not sure I’m putting this into the correct words, but I believe that a classroom full of children that have to read the word Nigger is an opportunity to teach them about what it was like to have been a negro in America back then. It is an opportunity to teach them how words hurt – how calling someone a name could potentially hurt that person more than if you broke their arm. A broken arm will heal, but a broken spirit will not.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, I’m an out lesbian. I am as out as I am white. I’ve been called a dyke and it hurts. Just when I think that everything is all cool, someone will call me a dyke and I’m reminding that I’m different – that I don’t really fit in with everyone around me. I wonder, sometimes, if that’s what it is like to be black in America. Does a black person ever forget that they’re black? Blacks are only 26% (feel free to check my figures, this is an estimate) of the America population, which probably means that whenever they stand in a room with four people in it – 3 of them are white. I wonder what that is like for them. I mean, when I stand in a room full of strangers – no one knows I’m a lesbian, but when you’re black, well, that’s pretty hard to hide.
Anyway, I’m taking a long way to say the following:
- Censoring a novel because one word or more are offensive today is wrong. We shouldn’t take out the parts we don’t like.
- Allowing our children to have open discussions on name calling in a safe classroom setting could be a good thing – if handled correctly.
- Richard Pryor came to the conclusion that saying Nigger was wrong, before he passed away. I wish D.L. Hughley would do the same thing – the stop saying the word, not the dying part.
- I’m a lousy dancer.
I’d love to know what you think.