Using the N word at Staples


Claire Lewin, News Editor

A recent incident at Staples involving a student and the use of the N word during an athletic function has led to not only this student’s suspension from the team for the rest of the year, but also a discussion about the use of the N word in society.

Anyone can look at this situation and say, “That kid deserved his punishment. The use of the N word is an inexcusable insult that should never be said.” This person is right; the N word is an extremely offensive word. But today, when pop culture constantly desensitizes the N word to such an extreme degree that use of the N word on television or in a popular song is common practice, can we really blame this student for repeating the words of one thousand others that he hears on a daily basis?

Take Lil Wayne, for example. Lil Wayne is one of the most influential rappers of our time, and his music reaches the ears of millions of people everyday. In one of Lil Wayne’s number one hits, 6 Foot 7, he uses the N word 13 times.

That means that any student listening to a Lil Wayne song, or any rap song for that matter, will repeat the N word 13 times while rapping along to the lyrics while blasting the music in his or her car.

That is 13 times that he or she is becoming more and more familiar with the N word.

Thirteen times that the N word is being instilled in his or her brain.

Thirteen times that he or she is being told that using the N word is okay.

And maybe thirteen times more likely that he or she will use the N word in his or her day, whether from an accidental slip or not but rooted from the media’s assurance that this word is okay, even cool.

We can’t expect teenagers, an extremely easily influenced demographic, known for their mistakes and naivety, to remember and follow rules when pop culture is telling them otherwise.

So can we punish students like this who use the N word? Of course. Are they exempt from punishment simply because it is a commonly used word in the media? Of course not. The N word is still an extremely offensive word that should not be used by anyone. But suspending one student or expelling another is not going to do anything. Society needs to get to the root of this growing problem.

Pop culture only tangles the connotation of the word, putting a punishable term on the tips of tongues. Society’s message is mixed, both flaunting and condemning the N- word.