Are you offended right now?
You're not sure. You are waiting for the meaning behind the above word, to see if you should be offended on behalf of black folks everywhere.
Which brings up my point.
A word is just a word until you decipher whether it is intended as an insult or not. And even then, the insult is up to personal interpretation.
Take the word nigger, for instance. When is it offensive, and when is it not? As a (half) black person, if someone came up to me and called me a nigger and they were intending to be insulting, then yes, I may take offense, depending upon the situation. But reading the word in a book? No.
I like to reread classics from time to time and I just finished HUCKLEBERRY FINN. A lot of controversy surrounds this book for numerous reasons, but most especially because of the author's use of racial slurs.
Me? I don't care how many times it drops the n-bomb, I really enjoyed the story.
I realize that there are those of you who will disagree and claim the book is nothing but a minstrel-style comedy that looks for humor at the slave's expense, and that's okay. Like insulting words, opinions are formed through personal interpretation and if it is your personal opinion to be offended, then it is not wrong.
I would like to point out, though, that the book recreates a time and era in American history when it was commonplace to use that name in reference to black slaves. It's sad to me that some people can't open their minds enough to get past the word and actually hear what the writer is saying.
Huck Finn, a poor white boy raised in racism, ends up going on a river adventure with a runaway black slave who turns out to be the most honest and decent man he has ever met, therefore "blowing the lid" off his racist perceptions and beliefs.
In my humble opinion (humble... yeah, right), I think it's a great piece of literature.
But please don't take me at my word. You've got nothing to lose by reading it and judging it for yourself, so if you haven't already, why don't you?
In fact, I dare you.