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Should Black People Stop Using the N-Word?

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The tide seems to be turning regarding the N-Word even in Black circles by Larry Gaynor

Let's face it: YouTube rocks if you know what you're searching for, but if you're just clicking on random links, it's usually a pretty disappointing experience.

Except when it's not! This particular YouTube video made my day.

It has just 700 views. I wish it had 7 million.

I'm tempted to just end this post here. Surely the video speaks for itself.

Besides, as a non-Black person, I try to avoid even the appearance of telling Black persons what they should or should not do, or, in NVC (nonviolent communication) parlance, what they would or would not enjoy.

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But I do want to share what *I* found so enjoyable.

In no particular order:

1. I enjoyed the surprise of discovering that another word might reasonably be found more disturbing than the N-word.

2. I enjoyed the awareness that the argument in #1 could only reasonably be made by a Black person, because only the target of the N-word is in a position to fully understand its impact. It reminded me again why diversity (of experience, of ideology, and yes, of race) is so important.

3. As someone who has been studying and practicing NVC for over a year now, I enjoyed hearing both the language and the principles applied to racial issues, which have been my primary personal and professional focus for over 10 years.

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4. I enjoyed the self-disclosure. It helped me understand a little bit of his personal journey. It connected me to him and helped me care about him as a person, not just as someone with an interesting idea.

5. I enjoyed the depth of the response.

6. I enjoyed being reminded that no one "makes us" have emotional reactions -- that emotions are always an interaction between the external world and our own private and personal way of giving that external world meaning. It's an amazingly empowering idea because if we really internalize it, it means that no one can push our buttons. Now that's autonomy!

7. I enjoyed that he didn't minimize the impact of the N-word. Just because we can choose how we want to respond to an external stimulus doesn't mean that said stimulus doesn't pack a punch. It does. It seeks to dehumanize -- not only a particular individual target, but an entire group, and this malevolent intention should not be lost, no matter how well some particular individual has learned to protect himself.

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http://internal.psychology.illinois.edu/~lyubansk/

Mikhail Lyubansky, Ph.D., is a member of the teaching faculty in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he teaches Psychology of Race and Ethnicity, Theories of Psychotherapy, and a graduate-level restorative justice practicum based at a youth detention center. An autobiographical essay of Mikhail's interests in race relations and basketball is available here.

Since 2009, Mikhail has been learning, facilitating, evaluating, and supporting others in the U.S. in learning about Restorative Circles, a restorative practice developed in Brazil by Dominic Barter and his associates. In addition to conflict and restorative practices, Mikhail also has a long-standing interest (going back about 20 years) in race and (more...)
 

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