“Huckleberry Finn” Should Not Be Censored, ‘Nigger’ Helps Us Understand Racism And Should Not Be Removed From Text


I deplore the word ‘nigger’.

I deplore the word ‘faggot’.

I do not want either used in common every-day conversation, and can say I have no friends that do.

But there comes a time when the  word ‘nigger’ conveys the tone and message required, such as in the book “Huckleberry Finn” that many of us read as youngsters in conjunction with “Tom Sawyer”.  At least I did.  In fact, “Huckleberry Finn” was a classroom text for me and my school peers.

I mention all this as “Huckleberry Finn” that was penned in 1884 is now being published without the word ‘nigger’.  In its place will be the more sterile word ‘slave’.  I find this censorship highly troubling.  To add salt to this wound is also the removal of the word “injun”.  Again, not  a word we want used today, but one that puts the reader into the times of which the author has constructed in his book.  (Let us not forget, it IS his book.)

I think it asinine to touch the words penned by Mark Twain.  I have enough problems when some in Hollywood condone colorizing old films.  But when someone remakes the words of a classic read I want to scream.

Racism was, and remains a real and troubling part of our society.  To attempt to whitewash it from a text takes away the one thing that we need more than anything else.  That being a protracted and highly engaged conversation about racism.  University scholar Alan Gribben is responsible for the censoring of “Huckleberry Finn” in what he describes as an attempt to get the book back in the hands of high school literature courses.   The edited book is soon to be published and released for sale.

While I applaud the desire to have youth read “Huckleberry Finn”, I throw-up over Gribben’s means to achieve it.  To not address racism in the manner it was presented in the book by Twain removes a great teaching moment for the folks who will read it.

Even after the many decades of work and public policy aimed to construct our society to be more equal we are still limited from a real dialogue on racism.  If we can not get over the mere usage of the word ‘nigger’ in a text as highly praised as “Huckleberry Finn” how can we move to a higher  level of awareness in our communities or legislatures when confronting racism?

5 thoughts on ““Huckleberry Finn” Should Not Be Censored, ‘Nigger’ Helps Us Understand Racism And Should Not Be Removed From Text

  1. Rolf

    Aw come on, we need to re-write Shakespeare too. And the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address as well. They should all read the way “we” want them to read, not the way the author(s) wrote them.

  2. Don’t you know that there is a new freedom in America more powerful than all others? It’s the freedom from ‘offension’. No one should ever be offended in their life. Freedom of the Press is only permitted if you do not offend anyone. Freedom from search and seizure is permitted if you do not offend anyone. And the whole concept of ‘hate crime’ relates to offending someone with a racist, homophobic, religious, gender, age, whatever, kind of criminal act. Do you not know that it is a less intense victim experience when beaten by people who do not hate you for your stereotype than it is by people who do hate you for your stereotype?

    Sarcasm aside now, I give you high marks for putting the words ‘nigger’ and ‘faggot’ in your post. In today’s PC society there are people afraid to spell out these words for fear of retribution. Good onya, mate, as the Aussies say.

  3. correy

    Rolf what madness is this, if the world became ALL black should we repaint the Mona Lisa because ” They should all read the way “we” want them to read, not the way the author(s) wrote them.”(in this case artists). Your an incompitant, selfish person. these people spent there time, efort, and put there lives on the line in the case of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address, just so that it can be eddited because “it uses a big bad scary word” that was (mind you) APROPEATE for the time period. your kind makes me sick!

  4. Michael Holt

    Honestly people, this is what is wrong with America today. People are too afraid to hurt some feelings or get theirs hurt so nothing ever gets done. We need to leave the book the way it was written beause it really shouldnt matter. I’m tired of black people.. sorry African Americans getting offended by a word that did effect them..

  5. Blakely Jones

    Dale, i think you are very wrong. Although it could offend someone, a person should know that when Huck Finn was written the word “nigger” was NOT and offensive term. That is what african americans were called. Society has changed the meaning of it but Huck Finn is a good example of it not being used is a derogatory way. Today, i hear african americans every single day reffering to themselves as “niggers”. if they call themselves that then why do they get mad when we call them that? The literal meaning of the word needs to be restored in american society.

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