Community buries N-word

Editors Note: Adult language in paragraph 5.

Taking a cue from the burial of the ‘n’ word ceremony in Detroit in July, the Northern Kentucky chapter of the NAACP conducted its own funeral for derogatory words on campus Oct. 23.

This was not a funeral of tears but rather a funeral of cheers.

Thaddeus Walls, president of the Northern Kentucky chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the event will make people more aware of the words they say and use.

Destiny Harper, a coordinator in Northern Kentucky University’s African American student affairs office and NAACP advisor, said she believes the event helped people work to communicate better.

“I don’t think you’ll ever have an absolute burial of derogatory words,” Harper said, “but I think it will produce more awareness and more sensitivity to the issue, which is essentially what it’s all about.”

Lewis Jones, another coordinator in the African American student affairs office, said he hopes the event will help people understand the meanings of derogatory words and help others realize how hurtful those words can be.

“People say words don’t hurt, but they do,” he said. “If people just do programs all the time and don’t learn anything from it, then what’s the purpose?”

At the event, there was an actual coffin donated by Thompson and Jordan Funeral Home holding not only the ‘n’ word but other derogatory words that were placed in by students.

The event was opened with a song sung by the Anointed Voices Gospel Choir, a scripture reading from Ephesians, 4:29-32 and a prayer by Minister Joshua A. Harris.

“To the greatest civil rights activist known to man, Jesus,” Harris said in the prayer.

Okera Nsombi, an NKU history professor, gave a speech with the theme “Ignorance is not an excuse anymore.”

“Today we have come here to pay our respects to a word that has impacted many of our lives,” Nsombi said in his opening remarks. He also emphasized that this was a festive occasion and encouraged those in attendance to clap and rejoice.

During Nsombi’s speech, he gave a brief history of derogatory words telling those in attendance that they shouldn’t use words they don’t know the history behind.

“Words have a spiritual power to them,” Nsombi said. “Words can build you up or tear you down.”

When one gets to they why of these derogatory words, he explained, one gets to the root of the problem. Nsombi’s speech was met with cheers and applause.

“Nigger is the ultimate American insult,” he said.

“The burial ceremony need for cultural revival, not death,” said Nsombi in his closing.

After Nsombi spoke, there was a Q-and-A session followed by students speaking out about what words they put into the coffin to be buried and why. Among the ‘n’ word, other derogatory words were buried such as ‘queer’ and ‘lily licker’.

The audience stood as the coffin was carried out of the Otto Budig Theater. As the coffin was carried further down the isle, cheers and applause followed it.

“I think this will be an event that will effect everyone,” said Harper. “We’re targeting the ‘n’ word but we will make definite mention of derogatory words that I’m sure everyone has encountered at some point.”

Harper said she believes this is a good follow up to the events held earlier this semester about the use of derogatory language after derogatory words were written on white boards in the dormitories.

“You won’t have any improvement or change unless people are proactive and try to get things done. I think it’s a good step in making a difference,” Harper said.