Effects of racial slurs need consideration before use

by News Editor Anna Brown

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is the biggest lie I was ever told.

Last Friday, news of a group of female students from a Phoenix high school bombarded social media.

At first, the senior class had all work black shirts with gold letters spelling out, “BEST YOU’VE EVER SEEN CLASS OF 2016” with some students wearing shirts featuring asterisks to represent spaces between words for a yearbook photo.

Then, the smaller group of students used their shirts to spell out, “N-I-(asterisk)-(asterisk)-E-R.”

The school, Desert Vista High School, suspended the girls for six days, but some think their punishment should be more intense.

Bri Handy, a change.org user, started a petition calling for the expulsion of the students for their use of the word and firing of the principal for only giving them a five-day suspension for their actions.

While I agree that the girls needed more than just suspension, I think they need more education on racial slurs, not traditional punishment.

The root of the “N-word,” is the word, “negro,” which is the word for the color black in both Spanish and Portuguese.

The French eventually started using the word, “negress,” as a term for an African woman. By the 1800s, the term became widely known as derogatory and offensive, according to the African American Registry.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary said the “N-word” means, “A member of a socially disadvantaged class of persons.”

Throughout our modern history, the word was attached to blacks as a form of verbal abuse, racism and segregation.

I hear many people — even on this campus — use the word as a way to joke around. Every day I hear, “What’s up?” followed by the “N-word” from someone’s mouth.

While I do not know the intent of the six girls from Phoenix, I assume they might have the same attitude that many people on this campus have toward the word.

“I mean it as a joke,” people say. Or, “Hey, I was just joking with my friend. I’m not a racist!”

These people need to really study the history of this word and how it has literally shaped our culture.

If I were the principal of Desert Vista High School, I would arrange an additional required history course on the use of this word and how it is associated with racism and the major changes caused by the civil rights movement.

I also encourage my fellow classmates and friends to really think about the meaning of that word and the hatred it is associated with.

Words hurt. Most physical injuries heal, but some emotional injuries never mend.