Friday, February 18, 2011

Rant #448: That Word Beginning With the Letter N ...

I have put this incident through my head a million and one times, and I guess after the 1,000,002th time, I finally decided to present it to you here as a cautionary tale of what can happen when one doesn't understand what a particular word or phrase really means.

There was a young person who gravitated to Facebook, like many of the person's friends and classmates, as a place to electronically congregate, meet up with supposed friends, and chat about nothing, whiling away their time when they supposedly have nothing better to do.

This kid, a teenager of 15, is a good kid, but the kid stepped over the line, and did a stupid thing on Facebook that the youngster lives to regret to this moment.

As you know, Facebook is similar to the electronic Wild West: pretty much anything goes, there are few rules and regulations, and even those that exist aren't enforced very tightly.

This young person likes popular music, and this youngster is drawn to rap music, for whatever reason: the beat, the thrill of listening to something that is sort of seedy, etc.

Some of this rap music is harmless, but much of it is not. Rappers have been given the license to rap about anything, using any words and terms that they want to use without any restrictions.

This young person likes the music so much that the kid often imitates the rappers in what the kid wears and how the kid appears on Facebook.

One day, the kid got what the kid thought was a clever idea: why not take one of the kid's favorite rap songs and do the kid's own "karaoke" version of it on Facebook for all the kid's friends to see?

So the young person did it, posted it, and thought very highly of this entry.

The song was full of four-letter-and-longer curse words, and also the N word.

The N word, as we all know, is a derogatory term that has been used for generations. It is a disgusting term, and many rappers have adopted it, for whatever reason, as their own. They use it like it means nothing, and maybe that is their point.

But for certain generations of people, including mine, the N word means one thing.

So, this young person posted his video and was all proud of the post.

The young person's Facebook friends, most of whom are of the kid's age group, didn't get too excited with this video. They've heard the N word and all the other words millions of times in their young lives, and I guess it doesn't have much meaning to them.

One of this young person's friends is black, African American, a young person of color.

This young person, like many of this generation, are desensitized to this word to the point it means nothing to them. The young person basically shrugged it off.

However, the mother of this young person--a woman who definitely knows what the word means--heard and saw the young person's video, and she got extremely upset.

When her child and the young person conversed on the phone, the mother also spoke to the young person on the phone, stating in no uncertain terms how upset she was at the young person for using the N word repeatedly in the song.

When the parents of the young person heard about this, they punished their child. They thought that they had taught their child how wrong it was to use this word, but they didn't do a good enough job. They once again explained to the child why the word is such a horrible one, but they found how hard it is to get this through to their child.

"But everyone uses it," the young person said. "Even black people use it."

Understandably, the youngster and the friend have been at a distance the past few weeks. They haven't spoken to each other really at all. The parents tried to fix the matter by having the youngster apologize to the friend, and the parents even made their own apology, but this seemingly did not work.

The President's Day vacation week is coming up for school children, and they often meet up with their friends during this period.

The young child thought he would give it one more try with the friend, a kid that the youngster has been friendly with literally all of the 15 years the child has been on this earth.

The young child made a call, but there was no answer, and a message was left on an answering machine. The youngster was understandably shaky on the phone, very nervous when stating that the two young kids should get together during their shared time off.

The friend did not call back that night.

But yesterday, when the young person was out of the house, the friend called. The friend wants to get together with the youngster.

Maybe the fences are mended, maybe not.

But the young person learned a valuable lesson.

Be careful what you say, because it can haunt you, hurt you, and reverberate well beyond what you ever intended it too.

I have been very vague in my explanation on this story, because, as you might have guessed, the story happened in my own home.

My son is a good kid, but like most kids his age, even though he has been told that that word is not acceptable, he really doesn't get it. Especially when every rap song he listens to uses the word, and uses it repeatedly.

He was punished, and I think now he understands how hurtful the word is.

Hopefully, he and his friend can get together and put this behind them.

And hopefully, his friend's mom and get past this too.

But I agree with her ... the initial shock of seeing and hearing my son doing this was horrid.

And hopefully, it will never happen again.

(I will take the day off for President's Day and be back on Tuesday.)


  1. I used that word once at the diner table and my father took an hour to explain to me why it was the most hurtful word in the English language.

  2. My wife and I don't allow it to be used in our house, and that is why we were so disappointed with our son's behavior. I think he now understands what he did was wrong, but I don't think he fully "gets" how hurtful the word is.



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