Saturday, May 31, 2014

N-word


N-WORD ANXIETY

Len Lawson’s blog on the n-word
http://columbiawritersworkshop.blogspot.com 
(Scroll down to “Writers Archive” and click on “Len Lawson.”)

has meant a great deal to me, since I’m guilty of using it in my antebellum novels. I tried alternatives. A substitute merely transformed my historical fiction into a 21st century politically correct piece of writing. Aside from that, words like African, slave, and bondsman don’t convey the anguish, degradation, and trauma of nigger. What was slavery if it wasn’t anguish, degradation, and trauma?

“Know me, know my history” is a quote from somewhere. We know our history from writers of history, which gives such writers authority. There’s also a responsibility to discover and convey truths derived from evidence. When facts reveal something that hurts, it's easier to suppress the story than to expose it. 

Nigger exposes an historical truth by its very existence. That truth hurts, and we want distance. Not only blacks but whites want to get away from it. We don't want to repeat history.

I've cringed as I typed the word nigger in what I’ve written. Len’s blog helps me make peace with myself. Even if you're not a writer, take a look at Len's blog. 


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