I grew up hearing the word “nigger” from relatives and friends, but I knew when the word came out of the mouth of a White person, it was offensive and meant that person was probably a racist.
Still, I oppose eliminating the word from the dictionary, as some people advocated at one time.
Now a Mark Twain scholar and a publisher have joined forces to publish a new edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A new edition the American classic is always welcomed but not the edition they are publishing.
You see, the scholar replaces the word “nigger” with the word “slave” because nigger is hurtful and offensive. Apparently some parents and teachers have complained and some schools no longer teach the novel.
I wonder when the novel is taught using the word slave will the parents, teachers, and children be less offended and less hurt once they understand the history of slavery in America. Many White folks deny slavery through its absence in their ideas of their heritage. Replacing the word nigger with slave allows the White folks to say, as some have said in the past, slavery wasn’t so bad.
As for Black folks. I ask you will you be any less hurt reading the word “slave” knowing what the word entails.
The word “nigger” in “Huck Finn” is in keeping with the language of the time the novel depicts. Most important, “nigger” clearly emphasizes the way the nation saw Blacks—slaves and free blacks—in the 19th century and extending into the 21st.
To remove or replace words in a classic is crime against literature; to teach the new edition to young people is a sin against history.