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About The Case of the N-Word

The most provocative, polarizing, and debated word in America is…


From its inception, The N-word has both empowered and demoralized, as if it is a core basis for assessing one’s character or root identification. Initially, its etymology conferred uniform contempt for black people. But soon, The N-word became a linguistic lightning rod, separating friend from foe and defining respective politics and ideals.

More than ever, common opinions about The N-word now span a wide spectrum of perspectives, including pro, con, and those that employ the judicial analysis of free speech – it all depends on the time, place, and manner. The range of opinions and attitudes are often influenced by cultural, generational, and psychographic factors, and qualifying distinctions are frequently made on the basis of pronunciation or ethnic eligibility to even speak the word.

What quantifiable impact can be measure by the infliction or mere utterance of The N-word?

How does it strengthen a bond or pierce the fragile membrane of civility?

What would happen if the The N-word were put on trial?

It’s within this matrix of social divergence, that the Johnson family seeks judicial review and proclamation. During a Black History Month lesson on the civil rights movement, Tiffany Johnson, a 4th grader, was exposed to The N-word for the first time. Tiffany’s teacher, Ms. Cunningham, taught the class about brave marches through threatening crowds of hecklers, and the courage required to remain peaceful amid taunts and jeers, particularly the frequent hurling of the invective epithet: NIGGER. Tiffany’s parents were incensed to learn that their child’s well-healed private school education included the deliberate use of the controversial term. Until then, they had taken precaution to shield Tiffany from its sting. Now, their 9-year-old is on the B-side of a bell that can’t be un-rung.

Accordingly, the Johnson’s have filed a lawsuit against the school, seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress. They argue that their daughter was too young and too tender and that the subject matter should be left to parents to administer. In their defense, the school argues that the lesson was age appropriate, and that the academic setting is most conducive for dissecting the intricacies of racial discourse.

What would happen if The N-Word were put on trial?

Dramatized Litigation • Controversial Deliberation • Interactive Participation