The student news website of Omaha Central High School

Racial slurs in classic literature

December 20, 2017

It’s almost inevitable to discuss race when discussing classic literature in classrooms. Considering most of the books read in classrooms were written in time periods where it was socially acceptable to say racial slurs aloud and the idea of segregation was engraved in the books, would this make it acceptable in this day and age to be insensitive to the profound language being spoken out aloud in classrooms in the literature.
Some may argue that being open about the language in the classrooms teaches the students about the lack of empathy towards African Americans. Teachers want the students to feel the rawness of the novel. To know what it was like to be in that time for it to be tolerable to use derogatory words against a certain race. To bring the book to life teachers don’t skip over or stutter over these unspoken of words. Do they have the right to?
Although the teachers’ intentions aren’t to be harmful and use the racial slurs that are brought up in classic novels like To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men etc. Unintendedly are they just adding to the fire of today’s arguments of systemic racism and privilege. Do teachers have a pass to say these words that were used against a whole entire race to belittle them?
At Central a large portion of the demographic are African-American thus the literature has an easier way to target and attack an audience when being read aloud in classrooms. Therefore, it can be insulting, offensive and confusing as to why an educator is allowed to say such words with so much history behind them especially if he/she is not African American.
Many questions and arguments could be brought up in regards of the topic but there could only be one right answer. Just don’t say the word at all.

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