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It took me quite a long time to understand what the author tries to convey, and until now I still have some confusions upon some sentences.  It really upsets me when I could not fully get myself through a thorough essay, but I still can feel the passion inside me which push me from time to time to reread the essay and get some new meanings out of it.  Anyway, these are not related to my reflection.

Gloria Naylor is the author of this essay, and she is a black woman growing up in a bustling but cozy environment.  She lives with her parents in her maternal grandparents’ and grow up in a positive community where black camaraderie would gather together once a week in her grandparents’ apartment, talking, laughing, sharing about the weekly updated anecdotes and fresh news spreading among the society.  The topics these lower classes discussed are wide and various and there are only few things that cannot be discussed in the children’s presence, which is death or sexual misconduct.  It is a surprise to me that the word “nigger” is allowed to be heard by kids, and then the author unlocks my confusion by spending several paragraphs to describe how the word is used in her community.  No matter used in the singular or in the plural, in the form of noun or with a possessive adjective, the word “nigger” is used in a positive way.  Black people treat this word with positive meanings and use it in their daily conversations.  However, it is different if white people use it, which is often perceived as an offensive act and a goad for a fight.  Such things tend to happen between adults.  Then what if it happens between kids who know not a thing about the word and the heavy history behind it?  The author described her personal experience as a child in the third grade.  She was insulted by her classmate using the word “nigger”.  The boy intended to humiliate her but he tried in vain, simply because the author didn’t know what exactly the word mean.  Given that the author live in a circumstance where everybody use the word in good ways, maybe she thought at the moment that the boy was really giving her a compliment.  Anyway, this is just my guess, and it is not right.  The author did not feel flattered but confused based on the fact that she kind of compared her good grade with the boy’s and the boy’s talking back should possess the quality of harming.  Anyway, the author got to know that the word can mean different things, it can be used in a bad way.  So here the author tries to prove a point that the reason that the spoken word is stronger than the written is that the former can mean different things when used in different circumstance, situations.  It can differs due to who, when and how people say them.  In this case, the word “nigger” used in the black people’s community is appropriate and not offensive, and when it comes to other races who use it, the word may sound harsh(though I do not know whether the boy is a white person or not, but I perceive him so or belongs to other races other than black race because he would not condemn someone of the same race).

But here is one of my questions, why the word can be used by black people while they should be avoided being used by white people?  What if white people want to use it in the same way as black people did?  Is it a prejudice that white people always use it in a bad way?  Is it another mythos that I don’t acquire in the United States?

It occurs to me that it is inconvenient that there are always some particular words or phrases that cannot be used among certain group of people regarding to their genders, their races, their domestic background and their religion beliefs, but I guess that it just how the world operate everyday.

Drop the topic of racism, I know that my family wouldn’t allow me to call some of my relatives “upstarts” because the act can cause the shame of the so-called “upstarts” and show them that we are jealous.  At first hearing, it may sound right, but if you think about it more carefully, you will find out that it is rather funny.  What is wrong with upstarts?  Isn’t it a suitable word to describe someone who get lucky and gain a great number of things he want in a short time period?  Is getting lucky a bad thing?  To me, it can only be one of the normal state of people, and if you have to attach something dirty to it, I’ll say what’s bad about it is people’s attitude towards their own lives once they get lucky, not the luck they get that may help them achieve something more.  Here I am  just saying, in reality I still cannot call people the words they don’t want to hear, they want to keep decent and numb and mendacious, and I keep in tune with them.

Somehow the world has to operate in a balanced way, and if people disobey the rule, there shall be conflicts, so I think that’s the way it works for every single being living on earth.

 

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