Friday, October 16, 2009

Questions from "Mommy, What Does 'Nigger' Mean?"

As I read "Mommy, What Does Nigger Mean?" by Gloria Naylor, I myself had many questions. Why does Ms. Naylor say that she considers the written word inferior to the spoken. She states in her passage that "Words themselves are innocuous; it is the consensus that gives them true power" (Naylor 510). After thinking about this for a moment, I see her point. If you take a look at Webster's dictionary you can see that the word "nigger" in and of itself is not a bad word. It is derived from the latin word niger meaning black. It is only when the word is spoken by some ignorant person that is fuled by racial hatred and bigotry that it becomes a bad word.

Ms. Naylor describes her family and childhood home in the passage. She also discusses how the words "nigger" and "girl" were used among her family. I think that she does this so that the reader can invision her family life and childhood home. This makes it easier for the reader to relate to her family.

I often wondered why African Americans would use the word nigger. Why would they choose to use a word that has such deep seated hatred associated with it, but Ms. Naylor explains that by "meeting the word head-on, they proved it had absolutely nothing to do with the way they were determined to live their lives" (Naylor 512). The family took a word that was used to signify worthlessness or degradation and tranformed it to signify the varied and complex human beings they knew themselves to be, thus redering the word impotant.

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