Seminar teaches race sensitivity

What’s in a word? A lot if it’s a derogatory one. John Turner, the hall director of Woodcrest Apartments spoke to students on Thursday, Sept. 13 during “Shut Yo’ Mouth,” a presentation designed to educate the campus community on the history of derogatory words, such as the “n” word. This event was held, in large part, because of an incident in Norse Hall on Sept.5, where a student allegedly had the “n” word written on her door. “This is to increase awareness, knowledge and sensitivity to differences, including, but not limited to racial differences,” Turner said.

He discussed the history of the “n” word and its definitions, all of which are negative. Turner also explained how a few famous people from the black community, such as Richard Pryor, tried to turn the word around and make it something positive for the people to embrace. While there were people trying to make it positive, there were still presidents such as Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson and Harry S. Truman who were recorded using the “n” word in a negative way.

At the end of his presentation, which was presented by University Housing and a group of student organizations, Turner played a popular song by Lil’ Boosie featuring Webbie and Foxx called “Wipe Me Down.” He asked students in the audience to count how many times they heard the word in the first verse – the answer is 12.

Cynthia Pinchback-Hines, Associate Dean of African-American Student Affairs and Ethnic Services also spoke at “Shut Yo’ Mouth.”

“It’s important for residents to feel like they’re safe,” she said.

After the presentation students were urged to participate in an open discussion using these questions as a guide: