Skip to main content


Author Series: Jabari Asim

Jabari Asim, author and editor of BookWorld, discusses his new book The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why. Asim addresses the history of this controversial word and its root in American rhetoric and contemporary experience.

According to one review: "Just as our founding fathers tried to dodge the issue of race and slavery by only hinting around it, the current debate often suggests that by not using the 'N word,' the race issue will remain dormant.  Asim looks back at Thomas Jefferson's essays on slavery, his justification of the misuse of slaves on pseudoscientific bases, and continued denigration of blacks in word and deed.  Asim maintains that despite attempts by hip-hop culture to reverse the impact of the word, and remove the sting of racial hurt, the result has been to maintain socioeconomic distance among the races." (Vernon Ford; copyright American Library Association)

In addition, Asim discusses the use of the word in Go Tell It on the Mountain, the Chicago Public Library One Book, One Chicago Spring selection.


Recorded Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at Chicago Public Library.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.