Nigger : the strange career of a troublesome word



Transcription of Annotations

Notes from front and back endpapers: "Nigger - as insult. - H. Rap Brown's judge in the 60's. - What is Title 7 of Civil Rights Act? - Julius Fisher - black janitor at Washington Cathedral, 1944. - Ralph Ellison - American Negro traditions, p. 80. - Lyndon Johnson appoints Thur. Mar., p. 53. - Chris Rock, p. 41. - Richard Pryor, Chevy Chase. - Leroy Bruce. - Lexis/Nexis, July 2001: 84 kike; 50 wetback; gook - 90; honky - 286; nigger - 4219. - Frederick Douglas. - Richard Wright. - p. 133: Merriam Webster - John Morse; 1997: Delphine Abraham, 2000 signatures in a month. - p. 137: Huck Finn: nigger appears 215 times. - p. 142: Keith Dambrot - Central Mich. U., 1993. - p. 147: Ken Hardy - Jefferson Comm. College, 1998. - p. 148: White teacher in Gould, Arkansas, 1988. - Prof. Charles Lawrence; Mari Matsuda, Prof. Richard Delgado. - p. 163: Amos 'n' Andy - NAACP denounced it, but Roy Wilkins liked it. - Bill Cosby. - ER [?]. - Robert C. Byrd: a lot of white niggers. - p. 120: The word "niggardly" - David Howard, Julianne Malveaux. - p. 117: Tawana Brawley. - 1930: NYT announces no longer using small "n" in Negro. - b. Columbia, S.C.; father: postman; mother: a teacher; lived in D.C.; grad. Princeton, 1977; Oxford Rhodes Scholar; Yale Law; Clerk to Thur. Marshall; began teaching at Harvard, 1993. - A picture of Lois Armstrong in his office. - Not first person to use 'Nigger' in title. - Latin word - niger. - Bill Cosby refuses to use it; Chris Rock - the opposite. - Errol McDonald - Pantheon's senior editor, one of few blacks in book publishing. - Original subtitle: "A problem in American Culture". - Dick Gregory's 1964 autobiography "Nigger"." -- Annotations by Brian Lamb in the margins and underlining of pertinent phrases throughout the book. -- Examples: p. 68: "There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or 'fighting' words - those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." -- p. 80: "An ambivalent retributivist, I choose the latter alternative. I am persuaded that there should be no bright-line limits to the array of provocations that a jury is permitted to consider for the purposes of mitigation." -- p. 95: "Given the protean character of 'nigger', which may signal several different (even contradictory) meanings, it is probably erroneous to conclude that the word itself necessarily furnishes proof of racial discrimination." -- p. 127: Rock's message is clear: white people cannot rightly say about blacks some of the things that blacks themselves say about blacks."


Kennedy, Randall, “Nigger : the strange career of a troublesome word,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed December 6, 2022,


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Dublin Core


Nigger : the strange career of a troublesome word


Kennedy, Randall


Program air date: March 3, 2002


Nigger is arguably the most consequential social insult in American history. In this book, the author traces how the word has been used and by whom, while analyzing the controversies to which it has given rise. The author explores such topics as how "nigger" should be defined and whether blacks have a right to use "nigger" while others do not.


"African Americans--Social conditions."
"African Americans--Race identity."
"Racism in language."
"Racism--United States--Psychological aspects."
"English language--Slang--Social aspects--United States."
"English language--United States--Slang--Psychological aspects."
"Invective--United States--Psychological aspects."
"Invective--United States--History--Anecdotes."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


Pantheon Books
George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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1st ed.