clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

David Aldridge: Kyrie Irving is right to push for retirement of the ‘n-word’

New, comments
Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It started with a back-and-forth between Kyrie Irving and Dennis Schröder in the third quarter of a close game between the Nets and Lakers. Then, it got ugly.

According to Complex.com and others, Schröder’s purported use of the N-word in the confrontation triggered Irving, leading to both men getting tossed for the first time in their careers.

A day later, Irving tweeted this...

Now, David Aldridge of The Athletic suggests that Irving’s tweet should become a rallying point for those who believe the word has no place in any context, no matter who uses it.

Kyrie Irving is 100 percent right.

The N-word needs to be put to sleep.

It is a most wretched word, in all of its iterations: with “er” at the end of it, as well as “ga.” The former is, of course, the most vile curse word in human history, a grotesque bastardization of negro, the Spanish/Portuguese word for Black. It was adapted over decades by White people in America, for one purpose and one purpose alone — the degradation of the Black Africans who were sold into bondage and slavery in the United States and the Caribbean. To call a Black slave that word was to separate that person from his or her humanity, to stress that they were not subject to the rights or privileges of White people, beginning with life itself. The formal end of slavery and Reconstruction did nothing to stop the word’s use by White people; rather, the word became cemented in the American lexicon....

In the lengthy and heartfelt commentary, Aldridge thinks its use by Black Americans to “take back” the word doesn’t mitigate the horror of its past.

Keeping the word in public currency does not dull the word with use; it reinforces it, gives it new power. And, being a word, it cannot be controlled. The intent of Black artists or people on the block to keep it 100 does not reduce its impact whenever a White person uses it. And a lot of White people still use it.

Aldridge notes that yes, there is video of Irving using the n-word in the past and it quickly circulated after his tweet. That’s not the point, Aldridge writes.

If Irving is, at 29, still figuring some things out about himself, determining what is and is not important to him, then good for him. He’s entitled to think out loud. I didn’t agree with his anti-media stance at the beginning of the season, but so what? People can disagree about one thing and agree on 100 others, and vice versa.

In the end, Aldridge writes, Irving deserves to have his voice heard.

Racism will not go away any time soon. And that makes it hard to believe the N-word will, either. But when a high-profile person like Irving publicly brings the issue to the forefront and hopefully stirs some thought or discussion, those of us who agree with him owe him our voice.

Bottom line: once again, Kyrie Irving is willing to use his voice to engender debate where before he spoke, little to none existed. It’s called leadership.