The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$3.99
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Eligible for Amazon's FREE Super Saver/Prime Shipping, 24/7 Customer Service, and package tracking. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Dust jacket in Has dustjacket condition.
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more

The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why Hardcover – March 26, 2007


See all 11 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from Collectible from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover, March 26, 2007
$1.75 $0.01 $17.95

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

100 M&T
100 Mysteries & Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime
Looking for something good to read? Browse our picks for 100 Mysteries & Thrillers to Read in a Lifetime, brought to you by the Amazon Book Editors.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1ST edition (March 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618197176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618197170
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,197,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Midway through Washington Post columnist Asim's history of the "N" word in America, readers may conclude it should not be uttered by anyone, anymore, for any reason. Essentially, this 400-year chronology is an exhaustive history of white supremacist ideology, showing that the word nigger is as American as "liberty, freedom, justice and equality." He sweeps over this sensitive and contradictory terrain—including black Americans' use of the word—with practicality, while dispensing gentle provocations. Asim notes, for example, that popular civil rights presidents like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson used the N word all the time. Bicycling in Africa in 2004, a young black American encounters a black-owned hip-hop clothing store called "Niggers." Children growing up during the latter half of the 19th century sang "The Ten Little Niggers" nursery rhyme. Asim is at his best when offering his opinion—"in the 21st century, to subsist on our former masters' cast-off language... strikes me as... an immense, inscrutable, and bizarre failure of the imagination." Still, he concludes, the word nigger is indispensable in certain endeavors. His analysis of 19th- and 20th-century pop culture phenomena may too fine-toothed for general readers, but clear, engaging writing increases the pleasure. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Asim addresses the root of this controversial word in American rhetoric and contemporary experience. Just as our founding fathers tried to dodge the issue of race and slavery by only hinting around it, the current debate often suggests that by not using the "N word," the race issues will remain dormant. Asim looks back at Thomas Jefferson's essays on slavery, his justification of the misuse of slaves on pseudoscientific bases, and continued denigration of blacks in word and deed. He traces the use of the word through popular entertainment from minstrel shows to films (notably Birth of a Nation) to current comedy routines and rap music. Despite attempts by hip-hop culture to reverse the impact of the word, and remove the sting of racial hurt, the result has been to maintain socioeconomic distance among the races, Asim maintains. Still, he argues that the word has had a long history of powerful impact in more responsible hands as a reminder of the troubled legacy of race relations in the U.S. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

JABARI ASIM is the acclaimed author of What Obama Means . . . For Our Politics, Our Culture, Our Future as well as the author of the highly praised and controversial The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, And Why.

He is the editor-in-chief of Crisis magazine, a preeminent journal of politics, ideas and culture published by the NAACP and founded by W.E.B. Du Bois in 1910. He spent 11 years at the Washington Post, where he served as deputy editor of the book review section. For three years he also wrote a syndicated column on political and social issues for the Post.

In April 2009, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded him a fellowship in nonfiction, one of 180 fellowships awarded to artists, scientists and scholars in 2009 selected from a group of almost 3,000 applicants.

He is a frequent public speaker and commentator who has appeared on "The Today Show," "The Colbert Report," "Hannity & Colmes," "The Tavis Smiley Show," "The Diane Rehm Show" and countless other programs. He has lectured at many of the nation's finest universities, including Seton Hall University, Northwestern University, Syracuse University and the University of Florida. He is an associate professor of creative writing at Emerson College.

His first work of fiction for adults, A Taste of Honey, was published in April 2010. The Road To Freedom, his first novel for young readers, was published in 2000. His other children's books include Whose Toes Are Those, Whose Knees Are These, Daddy Goes to Work, and The Road to Freedom. His children's books, Boy Of Mine and Girl Of Mine, were published in April 2010. Fifty Cents And A Dream, a new book for children, will be published in December.

Jabari Asim lives in Massachusetts with his wife and children.

Customer Reviews

It's one thing to listen to Pryor use the word to skewer lingering racial bias.
Jean E. Pouliot
I think the history this book discusses really allows the reader to have a great understanding of the overall concept.
Jarael Madyun
I kept reading, thinking that I would finally get sucked in - but it never happened.
Tabbatha Cavendish

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jean E. Pouliot on May 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The only bad thing to say about "The N Word" is what author Jabari Asim said himself. The subtitle, "Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why" is a marketing invention that missed the point of the book and does injustice to its purpose.

Asim follows the N word through America history, like a trail of bread crumbs through a dark and dangerous forest. There are times when the trail is rather sparse, and other times when the pile of crumbs is wide and deep. The first crumbs are laid by 1619, with the unloading of 30 Africans into the new world. From the beginning, the word has a brutally negative meaning. Some have attempted to soften the word's harshness by claiming that it originally meant little more than an observation about the darkness of a slave's skin. But Asim makes clear by quoting from period documents that pigmentation was considered a radical (and unsavory) deviation from the European standard of lightness. Some even considered it to be literally an infection of the skin. Very quickly, the word took on connotations of inferiority, debased humanity, servility and lack of intelligence. To use the word meant to distance oneself from and to deny another's personhood. Thus it was, thus it has always been. In fact, one thing I admire about Asim's approach is that he does not give in to the now-current opinion that one should not judge past generations by this generation's morality. Asim will have none of this - to capture, sell and own human beings, to separate them from wives and family, and then to ratify that action by creating an enduring culture that belittles and demeans them on account of skin color -- has always been and will always be an act of heartless depravity.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Franklin the Mouse on February 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
In Mr. Asim's introducing, he clearly states that his little book is selective in his examples and some readers will disagree with his oversights. The author does a fine job of explaining the horrible history of the word and, despite almost 400 years of usage, the 'N' word still has a huge impact. He places such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington in proper perspective in their attitudes about blacks. Pseudo-scientific nonsense such as niggerology is also accurately dissected. Other cultural examples hightlighted are Uncle Tom's Cabin, Jim Crow, minstrel shows, Reconstruction, race-baiting, Southern lynchings, Uncle Remus, Huck Finn, Archie Bunker, the OJ Simpson trial, Richard Pryor, Spike Lee and gangsta rap. Mr. Asim's book isn't out to slam whites or excuse African Americans for their verbal indiscretions. It is meant to stimulate discussion about this peculiar word. Speaking as one of two Causcasian parents raising two African-American boys, I am deeply appreciative of this wonderful, thought-provoking book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
By Charlie on December 11, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great book. It really clarified what took place in history in the establishing of an institutional system that decided who was and was not advantaged in the system.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rosa L. Simmons on March 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I saw Jabari Asim speak at our Black Heritage Festival in Savannah. He was so wonderful I had to have the book. I attend with several friends and we ordered as a group. The book was just as we expected. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in race relations and social science.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy P. Scanlon on December 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I picked up the text of this book on the remainder shelf of a local bookstore while that store was opened a few years back. I live in a black majority area, was a fan of the television serious “The Wire” in which African American characters frequently use “the N word” derisively toward each other. Yet, I confess, I was still someone presumptuous that the book might just rationalize that behavior while condemning when those of us of “the majority” use it.

Then I recollected, when I lived in Asia in the late 1970s, and American friend at the time asked if I’d ever “done a n****.” I blushed, felt terribly uncomfortable at the use of the word (a discomfort that I suspect my parents didn’t feel twenty years before.

So, yes, we probably all have a history with it. (I chuckle too that in the early 1990s, I worked professionally in civil rights law. I was telling a joke to my aunt and my cousin’s stepdaughter heard “the n word”—in the joke the word was quoting a member of the Klan—and she really resented my racism. In context, and in retrospect, I understand her concern).

The author is a columnist for the Washington Post and impressively eloquent. If I were to summarize the text, I could describe it as an overall review of the history of racism in the United States. And I learned little tidbits of which I was unaware. A few years back I was told, for example, that “Jim Crow” was kind of a “made up name” to represent black persons. I learned from this book that it was the character name of a white comedian in I think the early 19th century who played a hopelessly ignorant black character “Jim Crow.” Apparently this act was popular for decades.

We do, alas, have a racist history of which to be not proud, to put it diplomatically.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jarael Madyun on December 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's completely the opposite of what I expected. I think the history this book discusses really allows the reader to have a great understanding of the overall concept.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Product Images from Customers

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search
ARRAY(0xa260ab34)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?