If you type in your friendly search engine (mine, in this case is google) the words: huckleberry finn rewrite, chances are you'll come up with a plethora of articles and opinions, click here for example.
And if you don't know what I'm talking about, let me explain briefly. NewSouth Books anticipates releasing another edition of Huck Fin, sans the "n-word". Instead, its replacement is "slave". Much more PC, yes? Doesn't make us cringe as much as the word n*gger does it? Evidently the racial slur is said in Huck Finn over 200 times.
Here's their reasoning:
"After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach this novel, and Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can't do it anymore. In the new classroom, it's really not acceptable." Gribben became determined to offer an alternative for grade school classrooms and "general readers" that would allow them to appreciate and enjoy all the book has to offer. "For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs," he said. (From here).
Whatever derogatory term out there, of course my immediate reaction, when saying it in front of students, would be to cringe. Primarily because I am aware of their insecurities and raw emotions PLUS their adolescent brains. (Let's not forget that middle school students have not fully developed their frontal lobe.) But because of my hesitancy, my discomfort, do I feel that it is not of some worth to use the language of the time period, or the language that the author utilized to make a point.
(ETA - asterisks will be used so I don't get spammed folks).
N*gger is uncomfortable. It is GOOD that it is uncomfortable. And let's face it, even though slavery was awful and one of our despicable moments in history, I can say slave all day and it does not give the same visceral reaction that n*gger does. Huck Finn is a window into history. If we clean it up, we erase part of our history.
I teach a excerpt of a biography of Malcolm X and Jackie Robinson to my 7th grade students. In it, they both use the "n-word" twice. Even though I do this yearly I still mentally psyche myself up before reading it out loud. But more importantly, I DISCUSS with the students what that word meant in relevance to what was going on and what it means to them hearing it now.
It just frustrates me to no end. Teaching is not always warm fuzzies. Our job is suppose to be difficult at times because knowledge is difficult. It changes us. It makes us better individuals. Real people had to live under these circumstances (some still do). Don't we owe it to them to continue sharing their story? Unedited? Uncensored? Isn't that why the slaves fought to learn to read and write? To prove that they existed? To prove that they were people and not lesser than or property of their masters.
*sigh* I'm on my first cup of coffee folks. Many apologies if this rant is incoherent or rant-y.
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