A few days ago, an NPR article discussed a newly revised version of Mark Twain’s classic novel Huckleberry Finn. The new version replaces the word “nigger” with “slave” in hopes school districts will return the book, in this version, to their reading lists. Many school districts have removed the book from their reading lists because of the N-word. Some people fear exposing students to the word will encourage its useage.
Lets be honest, any junior high or high school student not familiar with the N-word is living in a bubble with little outside contact. Huckleberry Finn will not be their introduction.
I believe reading books like Huck Finn in school, then having a modern, perspective discussion about the language and era of the book lessens the use of these words. It’s not hard to explain that these words came from an era of far less education and ignorance of people and culture different from one’s own. Who wants to talk like they’re uneducated and ignorant?
Get this discussion out of our childrens’ systems early so they don’t find it novel and cool later in life. I hate these words, so let’s frame them the way they are.
Sweeping things under the carpet never helped a situation later on. What would happen if we stopped discussing the KKK, Nazis, and the holocaust to insulate our children from such atrocious people and events? What a grave mistake that would be.