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Discussion focuses on use of the “N” word

February 18, 2011

“It’s obvious that on this campus, ‘nigger’ is alive.” Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr. told students as he led his discussion titled “The ‘N’ Word: A message of madness” Wednesday.

The presentation comes several months after a student used the “n-word” during a poetry session in a classroom, which was followed by an uproar of controversy over the use of the word.

Despite numerous efforts by Moore to incite discussion by the diverse crowd, many white students expressed their reluctance to speak.

“I’m afraid he’s going to call on me, and I’ll say something that sounds offensive,” said junior Chelsea Merritt. “I don’t mean for it to be offensive.”

As a first exercise, Moore had students shout out what came to mind when they heard the “n” word. After a few silent moments, the many negative connotations of the word were shouted out, with very limited participation by white students.

This became the springboard for his catchphrase, “You don’t have to talk like the Klan to think like the Klan,” implying that just because you don’t say the word, doesn’t mean you aren’t thinking all the negative things associated with the word.

“What’s most important to me, and what I tried to emphasize here, is not just people saying nigger,” said Moore. “It’s what people’s picture of nigger is. That’s what I think, often doesn’t get talked about.”

This, and many other remarks ruffled more than a few feathers, black and white alike. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “I was really offended when he said that the only reason white people don’t say the ‘n’ word is because they’re afraid they’ll be beat up. That it’s just a safety issue. I hate that word, and I don’t say it because its history is so offensive, I didn’t have to be trained to think like that. I felt like he was saying that all white people are inherently racist.”

Moore’s frequent use of the “n” word also got mixed reactions from the crowd, with most students divided on its use.

“I think the session is the “nigger” session,” said Moore. “So, the goal is to really have folks spend some time having so discussion about a word that has some really painful history, but also a lot of relevancy in today’s society. It’s not the “n” word that bothers people, it’s the “nigger” word.”

However, despite the initial discomfort, Moore managed to incite a large amount of good conversation.

“I feel like there was some respectful dialogue.” Moore said. “It was challenging for some folks, it wasn’t kumbaya, there was some disagreement … but people were hearing each other out. I was feeling really good about the dialogue.”

Not everyone enjoyed the lecture though.

“[He’s] Good, but he keeps flip-flopping,” said freshman Shawndra Pitts. “He doesn’t have a single point. He keeps disagreeing to make people talk. It’s confusing.”

Despite the mixed reviews, Moore got people to talk about an issue that has pervaded the campus and society for too long with very limited discussion.

“My challenge to Monmouth College is to really continue to set the standard across the ACM,” Moore said. “Be a campus that says, ‘we deal with this stuff, we deal with it when it happens, but we also try to do things that are preventative’ … this is something Monmouth College should be really proud of.”

Assistant News Editor

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