In today’s culture, the n-word has become a lot more casual than it used to. Watching things like The Chapelle Show (even at an age I probably shouldn’t have been) and it’s use in very popular hip-hop songs has almost desenzitized our culture to what it means.
On one hand, I think it’s a good thing that the stigma is starting to wear off the word. It is no longer a “hate word” that perpetuates negative stereotypes. Donte Stallworth and Leigh Bodden talked about how on the football field, the word gets tossed around all the time and people don’t really think anything of it.
On the other side though, I think it can be harmful to use a word without understanding the meaning it could have. The United States is a very young country, and not so long ago the n-word was part of hate speech, and it still can be. I think that we as a society just have to be careful how we speak. As with anyone, treat them with respect when you are speaking, and maybe keep the dialogue more open about the n-word, instead of just calling it taboo.