Words that begin with “N” and our contest

“All that’s changed in last 25 years is the calendar.”  Ice Cube


Our first entry has been posted, and words have begun marching across the page with the intent to advance the cause of civil rights, not only for black people, but for all people disenfranchised by institutional discrimination and abuse, which of course includes people of all races and ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientation, etc.

Because we are asking for authenticity, it is conceivable, even likely, that the “N” word is going to appear in some entries. Even given the context of this contest, the word will offend some people, and rightly so.

I wrote a book review of Fire in a Canebrake: the Last Mass Lynching in America for the San Diego Union Tribune, in which I quoted passages directly from the book that used the “N” word, and my editor there, Arthur Salm, was required by the paper’s policy to edit those words out.  I do not have a policy manifest to conform to, only my sense of what is right or wrong, and dignified. As the Editor-in-Chief, I can’t rule out that it won’t appear in the entries I post, but I will approach use of the word on a case-by-case basis, considering the author’s intent.

Bill Maher used the word in a careless manner, apparently oblivious of the word’s power to continue to inflict pain.  Here is a response worth sharing:



2 thoughts on “Words that begin with “N” and our contest

  1. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    As a lady with UK leanings both British & Scottish & a fascination for what you colonists have done to the new world, I welcome reading strong opinions based on well organised facts not emotional outbursts of anger, insults or shock. I encourage a civil forum of our historical differences in measured debate to remain a community which honours each other’s right to free speech, uncensored submissions & critique. So please put away your words meant as knives, fair knaves, damsels & others. Character is never measured from attacks, reprisals or might, but it is by how your behaviour affects others to better justice & equality.

  2. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    Wounding words cut & divide us. If left unattended they become infected & infections spread until they kill. Ignorance leads to bigotry, a spiritual divide, of us versus them. Our words can be knifings and diseases upon another being, another spirit or they can be words that expose the wound as it is and with that understanding of the wounds of the past seek to heal them, nurture them back to health. The history of humankind has seen too few thoughtful healers and far too many who mindlessly wound. Your written words can either wield the knife or the suture, poison or disinfect. Which will you choose to write with?

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