I had a chance to chat the other day with award-winning filmmaker Dorian Chandler. Chandler is the author of the film "Nigger Nation," which explores the use of the n-word, and why people might think it's O.K. I've always been impressed with Chandler's work and consider her to be the best young filmmaker in America today. Her film has won several awards, including The Emerging Filmmaker Award from the "Women Make Movies," organization and the 2005 Flicker Film Festival Jury Prize.
The n-word is an interesting and perpetually controversial topic within and outside of black America. It is also misunderstood by most of us. First of all, I've never thought of the n-word concept in a singular sense, as there are multiple variations of the word used in casual conversation. There is the word that ends with an "r" and the other version that ends with an "a." Yes, I do believe that the version of the word being used makes a difference. Also, there are a long list of voice inflexions that can change the definition on the spot: If I say "What's up my n*gga!" in a high pitched, enthusiastic voice, that's very different from me twisting my lip, cocking my head to the side and saying "What's up n*gger" in a low, grumbling voice. In the first case I want to hug you, but in the second, you're about to get knocked out.