Nigger - The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word by Randall Kennedy

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Synopsis

It’s “the nuclear bomb of racial epithets,” a word that whites have employed to wound and degrade African Americans for three centuries. Paradoxically, among many black people it has become a term of affection and even empowerment. The word, of course, is nigger, and in this candid, lucidly argued book the distinguished legal scholar Randall Kennedy traces its origins, maps its multifarious connotations, and explores the controversies that rage around it.

Should blacks be able to use nigger in ways forbidden to others? Should the law treat it as a provocation that reduces the culpability of those who respond to it violently? Should it cost a person his job, or a book like Huckleberry Finn its place on library shelves? With a range of reference that extends from the Jim Crow south to Chris Rock routines and the O. J. Simpson trial, Kennedy takes on not just a word, but our laws, attitudes, and culture with bracing courage and intelligence.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Randall Kennedy

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Randall Kennedy received his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his law degree from Yale. He is a Rhodes Scholar and served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall before joining the faculty of the Harvard Law School. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Association, and the American Law Institute, Mr. Kennedy lives in Dedham, Massachusetts.From the Trade Paperback edition.
 
Published December 18, 2008 by Vintage. 208 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Nigger - The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word

Publishers Weekly

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Quentin Tarantino's liberal use of the word in his films—Kennedy repeatedly shows not only the complicated cultural history of the word, but how its meaning, intent and even substance change in context.

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National Review Online

Examples of such abuse include the Tawana Brawley case, condemnation of the word "niggardly" because it sounds too much like "nigger," attack on the entry for the word in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (sparking a threatened...

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Charleston City Paper

I don't think she has any idea that's she actually saying, ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma.

Aug 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Nigger - The Strange Career o...

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