By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer
Editor’s note: This story contains material that may be offensive to some readers.
Eastern New Mexico University students and employees debated the use of a racial slur on Wednesday night, part of the Black History Month celebration.
A panel and group of more than two dozen people talked about the word “nigger.”
Jordan Anderson, African-American Affairs director, said the turnout for the discussion was great.
“We’ve always had discussion boards, but never about any particular subject that is the most controversial,” Anderson said. “Every seat was taken, which is not normal.”
Gene Bundy, special collections librarian at ENMU, said use of the word died out from 1965 to 1985, but 40 years later, it has come back.
Eric Norwood, a black ENMU student, said where he is from, everyone says this word.
“Some of my close friends, I call them that,” Norwood said. “I know they have no trouble with me calling them that.”
Anderson said embracing the word gives African-Americans the power over “The Man,” authority figures who used it to degrade black people.
ENMU instructor Geni Flores said she used to live in New Orleans, where the word was used routinely.
“The one reason why I left is I didn’t want my children to be raised around that blatant prejudice … That word is used as a label for black people.”
ENMU student Kendrick Williams, who is black, said the discussion helped him as a person. He said it helped him to see how many people are affected by the word and how people use it.
“Me as a person, I’m not going to stop using the word, but change to not use the word as much,” Williams said.
Anderson said the word is so commonplace African-Americans don’t think about how it is used.
“It is so common that you get used to it,” Anderson said. “It has been done so much and killed so much that now the “N” word has become a part of our culture. That is the yin and the yang to it.”