Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

November 10, 2014

MURRAN – Using the ‘N’ Word – Racist or Appropriate?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 12:36 PM
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“It’s such a regular part of my vernacular. It’s a word I use every day,” said comedian/actor Tehran Von Ghasri, a 34-year-old D.C. native of African American and Iranian American heritage. “I’m a ‘nigga’ addict.”

When I considered writing MURRAN, I wanted the story to be as close to reality as possible. From the streets of Harlem to the neighborhoods of Brooklyn, to the Maasai tribe in Kenya, I wanted to try and reflect how things actually were.

To this end, the youth gangs in the story use profanity and the ‘N’ word liberally. The few white characters never use the word. I fully understand that in this race charged political environment, the race card will drawn automatically by the race baiters in our society. But I believe using the ‘N’ word appropriately and the understanding of that fact will not bother those who do not have a cultural axe to grind.

A recent article in the Washington Post supports my position. Here is an excerpt:

If there is one thing certain about the modern n-word — a shifty organism that has managed to survive on these shores for hundreds of years by lurking in dark corners, altering its form, splitting off into a second specimen and constantly seeking out new hosts, all the while retaining its basic and vile DNA — it is that it defies black-and-white interpretations and hard-and-fast rules.

The word is too essential as an urban slang term to be placed in a casket and buried, as NAACP delegates attempted to do in a 2007 mock “funeral” for the word. It is too ingrained in youth culture to be eliminated from city streets, as the New York City Council attempted with a symbolic resolution banning the word the same year…..

…..If anything, in 2014, it is the very notion of banning the n-word that appears dead and fit for burial. It was a long and noble fight, waged largely — but not exclusively — by an older generation for which the word is inseparable from the brutality into which it was born. If there is still a meaningful n-word debate left to have, it is over context, ownership and the degree to which it should be tethered to its awful history — or set free from it.

 A word that is used 500,000 times a day on Twitter — as “nigga” is, according to search data on the social media analytics Web site Topsy.com — is almost by definition beyond banning.

 I wonder which side of the fence my critics will take on MURRAN.

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