Dr. Laura and the N-Word: The Thing Is, She's Right

At least about who 'glories in it,' says Earl Ofari Hutchinson

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 15, 2010 1:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – Dr. Laura Schlessinger got skewered for using the N-word six times during her show last Tuesday, getting much the same treatment that other N-word-spewing white celebrities and politicians have gotten. But she doesn't belong in the group, writes Earl Ofari Hutchinson for the Huffington Post, because she's actually right, at least about "who uses it, condones it, and even glories in it." Explains Hutchinson, "N-word users and apologists serve up the lame rationale that the more a black person uses the word, the less offensive it becomes, which is precisely the point Dr. Laura picked apart."

"They claim that they are cleansing the word of its negative connotations so that racists can no longer use it to hurt blacks," but that's just not possible. Words aren't "value neutral," writes Hutchinson, and this one in particular "will always reinforce and perpetuate stereotypes. It can't be sanitized, cleansed, inverted, or redeemed as a culturally liberating word," no matter who utters it. So when blacks give other blacks the OK to use it, it "sends the subtle signal that the word is hardly earth-shattering." It led Dr. Laura to think she could use the word without any blowback. She was wrong—but she's right.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger speaks during the American Women in Radio and Television 2010 Genii Awards at the Skirball Cultural Center on April 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Laura Schlessinger speaks during the American Women in Radio and Television 2010 Genii Awards at the Skirball Cultural Center on April 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.   (Getty Images)
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