Repossession: Reclaimed Slurs and Lexicography

harm·less drudg·ery

[Ed. note: this post contains language that is considered extremely inflammatory. Caveat lector.]

People forward language articles to me all the time–usually the same article multiple times, until my inbox is nothing but language links and plaintive requests from Wine.com to buy more booze, please. But no one forwarded me Talib Kweli’s recent Medium post on language, probably because it was about the history and uses of the word “nigger.” I asked one of my frequent-forwarders if he had seen the post. “I had,” he wrote, “but I figured you’d have already seen it. I was not going to be the one to forward you a post on the n-word.”

The n-word. I think about slurs on a regular basis, in part because I have to explain to people why they’re entered in some of their dictionaries. It’s not unusual for me to open my email in…

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The Cost

Longreads

Rilla Askew | 2014 | 21 minutes (5,065 words)

When my godson Trey was a toddler growing up in Brooklyn, every white woman who saw him fell in love with him. He was a beautiful child, sweet natured, affectionate, with cocoa-colored skin and a thousand-watt smile. I remember sitting with him and his mom in a pizzeria one day, watching as he played peekaboo with two white ladies at a nearby booth. “What a little doll!” the ladies cooed. “Isn’t he adorable?”

I told Marilyn I dreaded the day he would run up against some white person’s prejudice. “His feelings are going to be hurt,” I said. “He won’t know it’s about this country’s race history, he’ll think it’s about him. Because so far in his young life every white person he’s ever met has adored him.” Marilyn nodded, but her closed expression seemed to say I was talking about…

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The Two Races in America

Great analogy and very well-written.

Shot in the USA: Gun Violence After Newtown

b Müller

There are two races in America. The race I’m running is the 100m. It’s tiring (I didn’t bother training properly), it’s intense but if I keep hauling my bones along eventually I’ll get to the end. Even if I don’t, someone can probably help or carry me over the line. I’ll need to make a big effort, at the end I’ll be short of breath and exhausted, but I will have run the race.

But next to me there’s another race going on. From high above the stadium, in the TV blimp or police helicopter, both races look pretty much the same in a bird’s eye view. But come down closer until you can see the faces of the runners and feel the texture of the track: These two races are different.

The race next to me is the 110m hurdles. It is slightly longer. It is harder fought…

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