Over the years, we have been called by so many different names. I find it interesting the phrase, “I won’t call you outside of your name,” that I hear people saying to one another. I always wonder what they mean exactly. There are many names you can call a person, and that’s just being proper. The other sorts of names…well, we won’t go there.
What’s in a name? Is it power or is it simply identification?
You know the worse name for us. The “N” word. I heard it as a child, directed at me and my brother, when we first moved to a predominately White area. I hear it now in rap songs and on the Boondocks cartoon. It is still jarring. It still gets my attention. Inside…it still hurts. We should have never empowered that “N” word.
We have been Negroes too, for quite a long time. Where did the Negroes go off to? Was it too close to the “N” word? I am unsure. I have returned to the days of the Negro in my new novel. Set in 1947, in rural Alabama. In that space and time, that is what we were called. That is what we were.
My grandfather lived for a very long time. He was born in the late 1800’s. He was at first a Negro, then he was colored, then Black. I think he was just becoming an African American when he passed away. He used all of those names quite freely to talk about different people but I think inside he may have been stuck on being colored.
I am not sure why my book had to be set in 1947 but it did. I don't know why we have to be Negroes in my book. Why it is still very possible that the “N” word will be hurled at my characters, as the worse type of insult. It is a very intriguing territory to live in and write in and when you write it you live it. Only time will tell the significance.
A to Z April Challenge N is for the "N" word
*These paintings are from the Harlem Renaissance by various artists.