The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word
Pantheon Books, 9780375421723, 240pp.
Publication Date: January 1, 2002
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With unprecedented candor and insight Kennedy explores such questions as: How should "nigger" be defined? Is it, as some have declared, necessarily more hurtful than other racial epithets? Do blacks have a right to use "nigger "even as others do not? Should the law view "nigger" baiting as a provocation strong enough to reduce the culpability of a person who responds violently to it? Should a person be fired from his or her job for saying "nigger"? How might the destructiveness of "nigger" be assuaged?
To be ignorant of the meanings and effects of "nigger," says Kennedy, is to render oneself vulnerable to all manner of peril. This book brilliantly and sensitively addresses that concern.