Textbook

Books Price Comparison (Including Amazon) - Guaranteed Lowest Prices on Books


 

Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word

 
 
 
 
Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word
Author: Randall Kennedy
ISBN 13: 9780375713712
ISBN 10: 375713719
Edition: 1st Vintage Books Ed
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2003-01-14
Format: Paperback
Pages: 208
List Price: $14.95
 
 

Nigger: it is arguably the most consequential social insult in American history, though, at the same time, a word that reminds us of the ironies and dilemmas, tragedies and glories of the American experience. In this tour de force, distinguished Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy-author of the highly acclaimed Race, Crime, and the Law- put[s] a tracer on nigger, to identify how it has been used and by whom, while analyzing the controversies to which it has given rise.

With unprecedented candor and insight Kennedy explores such questions as: How should nigger be defined? Is it, as some have declared, necessarily more hurtful than other racial epithets? Do blacks have a right to use nigger even as others do not? Should the law view nigger baiting as a provocation strong enough to reduce the culpability of a person who responds violently to it? Should a person be fired from his or her job for saying nigger? How might the destructiveness of nigger be assuaged?

To be ignorant of the meanings and effects of nigger, says Kennedy, is to render oneself vulnerable to all manner of peril. This book brilliantly and sensitively addresses that concern.

Publishers Weekly

The word is paradigmatically ugly, racist and inflammatory. But is it different when Ice Cube uses it in a song than when, during the O.J. Simpson trial, Mark Fuhrman was accused of saying it? What about when Lenny Bruce uses it to "defang" it by sheer repetition? Or when Mark Twain uses it in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to make an antiracist statement? Kennedy, a professor at Harvard Law School and noted legal scholar, has produced an insightful and highly provocative book that raises vital questions about the relationship between language, politics, social norms and how society and culture confront racism. Drawing on a wide range of historical, legal and cultural instances Harry S. Truman calling Adam Clayton Powell "that damned nigger preacher"; Title VII court cases in which the use of the word was proof of condoning a "racially hostile work environment"; 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. Smart, well argued and never afraid of facing serious, difficult and painful questions in an unflinching and unsentimental manner, this is an important work of cultural and political criticism. As Kennedy notes in closing: "For bad or for good, nigger is... destined to remain with us for the foreseeable future a reminder of the ironies and dilemmas, the tragedies and glories, of the American experience." (Jan. 22) Forecast: This may be the book that reignites larger debates over race eclipsed by September 11. Look for a bestselling run and huge talk show and magazine coverage as the Afghanistan news cycle continues to slow; the book had already been the subject of two New York Times stories by early January. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.