The Future of the N-Word

Last week, I watched a special report on CNN hosted by Don Lemon.  It was about the N-word.  Given recent news like the George Zimmerman trial and the Paula Deen scandal, what place does that word have in our society today?  What does it mean to us here in the 21st Century?  Is it still or hateful word, or as some of Don Lemon’s guests suggested, has it transformed into a term of endearment in the black community?

As a science fiction writer, I have to look at this from a slightly different perspective.  Science fiction is not just about the advancement of science and technology but also about the evolution of our society in the future.  So does the N-Word have any place in a futuristic society?  Would people in the 22nd Century and beyond still use it, and what would it mean if they did?

Personally, I think the fact that we still use the N-word in the 21st Century is troubling enough.  If that word remained in the vocabulary of 22nd Century humans, it would show an astonishing lack of progress, regardless of which demographic used the word, what context it was used in, or whether it was spelled ending with an “-er” or an “-a.”

What do you think?  What does the N-word mean to you, and do you think it has any place in our future?

P.S.: If you didn’t see Don Lemon’s report on CNN, click here to watch a selection from it.  Star Trek’s LeVar Burton talks about racism and law enforcement.