The McBride Gathering Space was filled to the brim with students and staff members interested in discussing the tender topic of using the N-word on Wednesday, March 16.
“People have become more desensitized to the N-word, but it hasn’t lost its sting," said senior Black Student Union Press Secretary Alexis Williams. "Especially at Elon with recent incidents, we need to realize it’s not just a word. It has power."
After participants gathered into tables of five to six people, senior Cassidy Stratton, president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, introduced the students and explained that respect was essential for an effective forum about usage of the N-word.
The forum first focused on the evolution of the usage of the N-word in hip-hop and rap. Senior Danielle Williamsdescribed this evolution.
“There are various perspectives in the black community referring to hip-hop and its artists’ usage of the N-word," Danielle Williams said. "I don’t want to suede anyone to have a certain opinion about it, but I’d like everyone to talk with each other to share their thoughts openly."
The presenters then showed a video clip of Oprah and Jay Z disagreeing over the power of the N-word. Students who spoke up after the clip sided with Oprah in that any use of the N-word has a negative connotation and is disrespectful to the African-American community.
Other rappers like NWA, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole and Big Sean were all examined for their lyrics and reuse of the N-word. Some forum attendees said artists like NWA had purpose in using this offensive word, but other artists like Big Sean tended to throw out the word without any meaning.
By this point of discussion, the forum had already lasted an hour. When the presenters excused all participants to leave if needed, half of them decided to stay to discuss the film industry's usage of the N-word.
Clips from the film "Pulp Fiction" and the television show "The Boondocks" were shown. Several of the remaining students said the repetition of the N-word in various television series and movies was unnecessary and in poor taste.
Before concluding the event with solutions that participants might offer up for this issue, senior Black Student Union President Alex Bohannon emphasized his reasoning for putting so much work into this forum.
“Blackness itself is not monolithic," Bohannon said. "Personally, I’m not okay with anyone using the N-word with its historical influence and permeation into music. This is a topic we need to continue talking about."