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The "N" Word and Classic Literature

 
 
aidan
 
  3  
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 06:18 am
In terms of the subject of this thread, I was thinking about it and I don't really see a reason to whitewash the truth and history for children.

If the subject matter of a book is not appropriate for children - I'd rather they wait to read it- instead of reading it and getting a dishonest view.

Because the net effect is that the children do not, in fact, learn what the author was hoping the reader would learn.
They would think that white people were kinder and less dehumanizing to black people than they were and they wouldn't truly understand then how strong, forgiving and resilient black people have had to become to rise above what cruelty they were, in fact, subjected to.

In the instance of John Steinbeck's character, Crooks, the black stable buck in Of Mice and Men, the language used toward him is what creates his loneliness, isolation and apartness. And it's very powerful. I had to read it out loud to our class as we had various reading ability levels and I literally couldn't finish reading that part of the book without choking up.
And the message of the book about what he withstood and went on living through would have been lessened if the language had been changed.

In fact, I think kids are more emotionally intelligent and sometimes more intuitively discerning than adults.
I think adults might be ashamed of the truth and want to produce a different one for their children that reflects less badly on them and is more palatable.
It's like how I didn't want my interracial children to watch Roots when they were little, because I was afraid they would associate my whiteness with the cruelty toward the slaves and develop bad feelings about me and the rest of their white relatives.

When they were older and able to understand and accept that not ALL white people were thus and such just as not ALL black people are thus and such - I felt more comfortable with them seeing it.

I'll always remember the situation with my son and my brother who'd committed suicide. My sister hadn't told her children, who were the same age as mine, the truth as she thought it wasn't appropriate or would be too upsetting to them. She told them he died in an accident.
I told my son the truth when he asked, 'What happened to Uncle George - why did he die?'
He was about five. I said, 'He was very sad about his life, he wanted things to change and he didn't think they would, so he wanted to die and he killed himself.'
My five year old son said, 'That's sad - but that happens to people sometimes - doesn't it?'
I said 'Yes, it does - especially when people are cruel to other people.'

What a great insight he had at the age of five. And if he hadn't had the insight himself - what a great lesson to learn at such a young age.
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 06:45 am
@aidan,
Thats the best idea yet. "Age appropriate" is the term. There is a time when kids profit from certain writing and this is one. I fdound out yesterday that the indiividual who was proposing this had not just proposed removing the word "nigger" and replacing it with the word "slave"(which would have messed up Huck fathers rants about allowing a nigger to vote). The schloar revisionist was also looking to conflate Tom Sawyer and Hick Finn into a single , much revised work. That is heresy. This guy should be horsewhipped.

I mean this is kind of an extension of whats going on in TExas wjhere they are planning to wter down events in history, or play down the "Separation of church and state" statement of Jefferson; the playing down of the civil rights demonstrations etc.
This is all too much PC bullshit for my tatses.
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 06:46 am
@aidan,
aidan wrote:
You know, I just got the other day why black kids/people of a certain generation have taken back the n-word and defused its power over them by adopting its use- in more than a theoretical way.
I 've seen them use it among themselves (loudly) presaging imminent violence.




aidan wrote:
I experienced for the first time, what they must experience on a day to day basis.
Not that I'm saying that I LIKE it or anything, but I understand it now, because I found myself doing the same thing.

There is this guy I work with and he's Scottish and he seems to have this rabid anti-American attitude to the point that I literally can't walk in the staff room and sit down without him mentioning my nationality (American) in some derogatory fashion.
There is a woman there named Liz whom I'm good friends with and I asked her, 'Liz - what the **** is Andy's problem?'
She said, 'He likes you Rebecca - that's his way of making friends..if he were overly polite, that's when you'd know he didn't like you, to which I respond, 'Oh really - so it's something along the line of a five year old boy pulling a little girl's pigtails...well, it's not funny or endearing...'

I think she may have said something to him, because he really stepped it up the next couple of days.
One day he was asking me if I knew what Noah did with all the animal **** on the ark and I said that I didn't so then he told me that he sailed to the 49th parallel and shoveled it over the side- and that became America.
I said, 'So you're calling me a piece of **** Andy?'
And he said, 'No - not you - your country - but don't take it personally- no reflection on you....'
I started laughing and said, 'Dont' take this personally, but I LOVE your country (Scotland). No reflection on you though.'
So the next day I'm typing a comment on an inmate's file - I'd written it out first as Andy had to log me in on his account and he was going to type it for me, but he said it was too long, so he said I had to type it.
Well the whole time I'm sitting there typing it, he's saying stuff like, 'Oh ****....I should have typed it for her, it'll be full of American spellings - in other words - WRONG!!'
But then everyone was really impressed with how fast I could type without looking at the keys and someone said, 'Yeah - she's not stupid you know,' and then Andy says, 'But she is American and there's only a subtle difference between stupid and American.'

So the next day my daughter was sick and I had to leave early and he asked where I was going and I said, 'My stupid/piece of ****/American daughter is sick- I have to go home and take her to the doctor.'
He said, 'I never called your daughter stupid.'
I said, 'Yeah, but she's American and there's only a subtle difference-according to you.'
Stopped him dead in his tracks. He's not made another American crack since.

And I like rap David. Some it is very clever and creative.
It glorifies the animal, in a dirty way; looking in the rong direction.

If I were there, I 'd take it as an invitation to argue, which I enjoy.
I 'd not recriminate in kind, because I LIKE the Scotch.
I like how thay sound, better than the English.
(I can 't stand the sounds of the Cockneys.)

I 'd be eager to sit next to him and inquire qua
his particular objections to America. I 'd apologize
for interfering with Great Britain in the 194Os,
and acknowledge that we shoud not have gone
over to their island in those days; terrible imposition!

He 's probably a Marxist, lamenting the commies' loss of the 3rd World War,
in which case I 'd rub his nose in it. We d argue class warfare.

It can be fun to argue.






David
wayne
 
  4  
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 06:46 am
@aidan,
I agree with you 100%. It's foolish to hide the truth from our children. We are only creating an intellectual handicap for them.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  3  
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 06:52 am
@OmSigDAVID,
youd get lost in your own argument which parses these philosophoies into bright whites and blacks. If it werent for REussia in WWII, maybe the Allies might never have beat the NAzis.

You only hate "commies" as long as you dont need em.
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 07:01 am
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
youd get lost in your own argument which parses
these philosophoies into bright whites and blacks.
If it werent for REussia in WWII, maybe the Allies might never have beat the NAzis.
Thank Hitler for that; thay were his partners, his buddies, until 6/22/41.
Then Stalin changed his mind, for some reason.




farmerman wrote:
You only hate "commies" as long as you dont need em.
True (kinda, sorta); I don 't mind EXPLOITING them,
the sames as I 'd not object to exploiting toxic snakes, like rattlers.

Tho I 'd exploit the commies,
I 'd still hold them in abhorrence.





David
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 07:06 am

For the record:
I oppose and abhor censorship for anyone, regardless of age;
(except military censorship).





David
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Jan, 2011 09:21 am
The way I see it, if the new work has any real merit, it will survive. If not, it will be in the trash heap within a year.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  6  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 12:00 am
Nigger was the word used at the time. This is full of meaning and learning.


Huck transcended the "morality" of his time.

Why in hell is the US denying its racist past?


Cannot kids be TAUGHT what it was all about?

I think expurgation is a lie.

Let us not lie about the horrors of our collective history.


OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 01:13 am
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
Nigger was the word used at the time. This is full of meaning and learning.


Huck transcended the "morality" of his time.

Why in hell is the US denying its racist past?


Cannot kids be TAUGHT what it was all about?

I think expurgation is a lie.

Let us not lie about the horrors of our collective history.
SO STIPULATED.





David
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Jan, 2011 04:58 am
@dlowan,
Bunny, It's the out of sight, out of mind mentality I suppose.
~~
Tuesday January 11, 2011
Mark Twain Controversy
Instead of replacing the n-word in "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," Larry Wilmore believes it should be emphasized. (05:02)
http://t.co/8SdNCl9
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 01:01 pm
ha, opie & anthony are playing movie scenes that have the word nigger in them and replacing it with slave, pretty funny stuff
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 02:31 pm
@aidan,
There is a good essay by the novelist Gloria Naylor called, "The Meaning of a Word," on the n-word. I don't know whether it can be found on the internet or not.
0 Replies
 
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 02:32 pm
@farmerman,
Did you hear the story on this Sunday's edition of This American Life about the class that is being taught to think like Ronald Reagan?
farmerman
 
  2  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 06:07 pm
@plainoldme,
well uhh, no, but, uhh, The Ronnie RAegan classes are , uhh, followed with lessons on How to walk like An Egyptian.
plainoldme
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 10:28 pm
@farmerman,
Really???!!! I either left my car at that point and didn't hear the next segment or it wasn't broadcast by my local station.

I suppose walking like an Egyptian is preferable to thinking like Reagan.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Tue 18 Jan, 2011 11:22 pm
I get a chuckle reading the discussion of whether the word "Nigger" is "age appropriate". Any first grader knows the word.

It seems better to me to have the discussion about why it is hurtful rather than either putting them in an unrealistic protective cell, or a wall of shame to keep them from thoughts they don't know why they shouldn't think.

Any kids have the reading skills to tackle Huck Finn (including the ability to stay interested in the story) are certainly old enough to start wrestling with the ideas behind the story and the word.

I would never let my kids read a censored version.






OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Jan, 2011 02:07 am
@maxdancona,
just as long as thay don 't provoke a fight
0 Replies
 
Moment-in-Time
 
  3  
Reply Sun 2 Jun, 2013 12:17 pm
@tsarstepan,
Quote:

So? The surgical removal of this acid splash word? Good, bad, or ugly?


I think the"N" word should have been left in the Classic version....Why deliberately try to conceal this historical terminology? Doing so detracts from the true realism of the era?
0 Replies
 
 

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