Opinion

Think the N-Word Isn’t Used on Campus? Think Again

By Justin Williams
CONTRIBUTOR

I was in my room with my friends at my townhouse when we heard male voices yelling and screaming. My friend who is African American came into the room, breathing heavily with an angry look on his face. He said when he was in the bathroom he heard someone outside the door say nigger this and nigger that (more or less) to another white student at the party. When he asked the student if he said the word the white student said he did. The two guys began to argue and things got physical. The white student’s fraternity brothers and other males at the party broke them up. My roommate, who is also in the fraternity, asked the white student to leave the party.

Ten to fifteen minutes later, the cops were outside our townhouse. They were called because the white student who had used the n-word had been punched in the eye by an African American male who attended our party. The rumor was that the white student called the African American male and his friend’s nigger when they left the party. No one really knows how the incident outside actually occurred.

The entire incident was hard for me to process. I have class with the student who used the n-word. Not once did I ever think he was a racist, and a part of me still wants to believe that he’s not. It was also hard to confront him because he was attacked and the nature of the attack means it is still unclear whether or not he was at fault. I don’t want to make excuses for him; whether he meant to use the word in a hateful manner or not it saddens me that as a white male adult he didn’t realize the n-word had the power to stir up very negative emotions from people who might have heard him use it.

I know that our posters have offended a lot of people, and I apologize to anyone who might have been reminded of a traumatic experience involving that word, but I helped put them up because there are incidents that happen on our campus that leave people feeling like they have no one to talk to when they run into incidents of discrimination. I want people to know that they can stand up for themselves and that they have support.

That incident at my townhouse affected more than just my friend and the person who used the word it affected everyone at the party. I think there is a conversation that the campus needs to have about the discriminatory language that continues to separate us from each other and find out how we can exorcise hateful language and thoughts about others out of our psyche. We can do it if we talk honest and openly to one another.


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