Analysis Of Gloria Naylor 's ' Mommy, What Does ' Nigger ' Mean? Essay

Analysis Of Gloria Naylor 's ' Mommy, What Does ' Nigger ' Mean? Essay

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When children of a certain ethnic group grow up, they often hear phrases or words that are used often by that specific group and they develop a definition of that word or phrase. The word is usually never used to hurt someone’s feelings or to put them down but instead used to greet one another or used to describe someone. That all changes when a person outside of the ethnic group uses the word or phrase. The meaning of it becomes totally different and can become hurtful. There’s a new meaning that’s different from the one that the child already had known and then it becomes a word that is hurtful and bad to them. This exact thing happened in the short story “Mommy, what does ‘Nigger’ mean?”, by Gloria Naylor. A young African American girl grew up around an African American family and society and had heard the word ‘nigger” before but it was always used to greet another African American or to describe someone that the adults were talking about. Never in a way that could be taken personal or in a way that could hurt the individual. That changed when a white boy called her a ‘nigger’ and she knew that it wasn’t meant to sound like the way that she had heard it before but instead to hurt her. Naylor wrote “But I didn’t “hear” it until it was said by a small pair of lips that had already learned it could be a way to humiliate me” (346). Just like in the story I grew up with an African-American family and society and become to know words or phrases that when used within the group was completely acceptable but when used outside the group became offensive. The words or phrases that offend me are; the word ‘Nigger’, the phrase “All crimes are committed by an African American”, and the phrase “It’s because you’re black”.
To start The word ...


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...kin tone and make me feel like I’m stupid.
The words or phrases that offend me are; the word ‘Nigger’, the phrase “All crimes are committed by an African American”, and the phrase “It’s because you’re black”. The words alone do not offend me because words don’t have the power alone to be able and inflict harm upon one another. But if the word is used in a certain way or tone the can become very offensive. All ethnic groups have these words or phrase that are okay in the group but when used outside of the group are often offensive. Everyone knows these words and know the meanings of them but some people still use them to try and make someone else feel bad for nothing. When people deliberately try and hurt you with words, it makes you mad just because you know that the person chose those words one purpose and are trying to bring up stereotypes or the past to hurt you.

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