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Giving up the ‘N-Word’

YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia, Commentary, Sean Shavers Posted: Mar 03, 2010

Editor's Note This year, Black History Month came and went without a lot of attention. One young man questions why Black History Month wasn't celebrated more prominently and shares what it meant to him. Sean Shavers is a content producer for YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia.

It seems like people didn’t celebrate Black History Month this year. I didn’t see any TV commercials or posters broadcasting on Black History Month. I think black people forgot about Black History Month because of everything else that’s going on this year, like the recession and homicides in urban communities.

To be honest, I never really celebrated Black History Month at home or in school. All we did in school was go online and research Malcolm X and Martin Luther King until our brains exploded. Black history is more than watching the “I Have a Dream” speech twenty times; it’s about African culture and heritage.

I’m not even sure how we’re supposed to celebrate Black History Month. Am I supposed to research all the way back to slavery or is it about remembering Black leaders like Martin Luther King? What exactly should I be learning about to celebrate Black history?

Some people wonder if it’s Obama’s job to put Black history on the map, but how can we expect Obama to be responsible for that when his full-time job is to run the country?

Some people say B.E.T and TV-one broadcast movies and music videos that relate to black history. But these movies and music videos show black people as hustlers, drug dealers, pimps, and killers. Where's the celebration of Black history in that? If that's black history, then I’ve seen black history my entire life. During Black History Month, I think TV broadcasting should show clips of what black people did to improve the world and the situation of their race.

Here’s an example:

This year, while researching how Black History Month started, Alicia Marie, a YO! intern, talked to me about the “N-word.” People have always told me it’s bad to say the it, but nobody ever really explained why. Usually, if I saw a black person walking down to the street next to me who I didn’t know, I might say, “wassup nigga” without thinking twice about it.

She explained to me how the “N-word” was created to dehumanize and disrespect black people. The word was used to insult people of African decent. I realized it’s not cool to say the “n-word.” In fact, you shouldn’t call a person anything other than their name.

Me and Jaquan (another YO! intern) made a pledge to put a dollar in an envelope every time we use the “N-word.” It’s been two days and we’ve already shelled out seven dollars for our slip-ups.

It’s up to me to express my heritage and learn more about my own history to celebrate Black History Month. People should learn about their family trees, like how far back it goes, where their ancestors originated from, and if there were any leaders in their families. I don’t know where my family came from in Africa or what my native language is; I want to learn more.

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