Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Use of a racial insult in
Comic Books

This is fair warning. As a famous oversized rapper once said, “it’s about to get ugly.”

It’s 2009 and the controversy lives on – the proper or improper use of a certain word. Who will be “allowed” to use the N-word and who won’t? The simplistic argument usually goes like this –“Why is it okay for Black rappers and comedians to use the N-Word and not okay for White people to say it?” “C’mon, it’s just a word. What difference does it make?”

But let’s be real. Everyone, even the densest of commentators suspects why the word is not for use in polite conversation. It has a complex history and despite all attempts to change it from an incredible ugly insult to a common everyday descriptive has failed. The word is a nexus for a number of sensitive issues – censorship, American history, power, and much more. It embodies issues that many Americans don’t ever want to think about, let alone talk over or deal with.

Well, if we can’t use it in conversation, how about the appearance of the N-word in comic books? Surely there couldn’t be a problem with the use of racial pejoratives in this fun filled, happy medium? Well, not exactly.


samax said...

an interesting discourse. i doubt this issue will be resolved anytime soon. i'm not really all that concerned about it.

Darkness U.S.A said...

A couple of years ago I was reading an X-men book and a black guy asked Kitty Pryde if she was a "mutie" and she asked him if he were a "nigger" and he said something like "hush your mouth girl". nigger is only not offensive when a black person says it to another black person in this case it is only stupid or crass but when i hear other groups use it, it still sends a chill up my spine.

Glenn Hauman said...

You'll be interested in this comic, then: http://www.comicmix.com/comic/comicmix/the-original-johnson/1/

Lots of historical usage of the word, and lots of history in context.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Darkness USA, you really sum it up. To state to a free society that blacks can use the word when speaking to other blacks is SO racist. It's like saying a race owns a word, no one else is allowed to use it. So juvenile. Grow up. Perhaps if blacks just learned to shrug it off, the word loses it's power to insult. The fact that blacks are not able to do this, gives the word nigger a cult status in our society.