Negotiating the N-word: It’s pervasive in pop culture, toxic in schools

By | June 18, 2014

You’re probably not going to like this, but I want to have a word with you. I should warn you, it’s a bad word, one that most of us were brought up to treat as unutterable in civilized society. But here it is:

Nigga.

That word might offend you, but it’s a common shout-out between young African Americans, a term of endearment that has a decades-long history in the world of popular culture. The word has gained unprecedented popularity in recent years among young hip-hop fans, who hear it with a frequency that verges on the absurd.

“I struggle listening to current-day hip-hop because it’s just all over the place,” says Percy Brown, diversity and student engagement coordinator with the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District and dean of students at Middleton High School. “It hurts my ears.”

To get an idea of what he’s talking about, I recently looked at the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart. Seven of the songs contained repeated use of the word. (The Capital Times)

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