- Some matters are for history and the culture to decide. It is not the word. It is the time, place, and manner of usage that constitutes education/
- So with Mark Twain, and Remus. Not for bureaucrats, ideologues.
- Teach the context of the time, the options, the choices, the mindsets. Compare to today. Do a timeline of meanings for "nigger." Restore dignity not by denial of a past, but by showing how fake it was in its ascribing of inequality. Make a whole language arts and social studies curriculum around how language shapes and perpetuates stereotypes. People even stop thinking about it. Huck just was part of his times.
- Try a Google book -- Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, from 2003, by Randall Kennedy at
This poem, I am the Nigger, is all over the internet. How can it be copyrighted? I have no idea. This is an old poem, see http://carl-sandburg.com/nigger.htm
Is this how it was, is, for those identified with the word. Should we not know. Here is our rough retype, spacing added to highlight the images: how does a mere retyping create copyright? We retype our own, here. No claim to copyright our version. Fair use, we think, of a totality of works by Sandburg. Sandburg is for the ages. A little different format at http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/carlsandburg/12689
I am the nigger.
Singer of songs,
Softer than fluff of cotton…
Harder than dark earth
Roads beaten in the sun
By the bare feet of slaves…
Foam of teeth … breaking crash of laughter…
Red love of the blood of woman,
White love of the tumbling pickaninnies…
Lazy love of the banjo thrum…
Sweated and driven for the harvest-wage,
Loud laughter with hands like hams,
Fists toughened on the handles,
Smiling the slumber dreams of old jungles,
Crazy as the sun and dew and dripping, heaving life of the jungle,
Brooding and muttering with memories of shackles:
I am the nigger.
Look at me.
I am the nigger
Carl Sandburg -- now, go see the original spacing, for impact.
And I recall that college lecture where the professor (a revered Professor, Mr. Denbeaux, freshman year) began the discussion by declaring that women were society's niggers. I have never forgotten. It is true. The concept goes beyond the origination.