Students discuss use of ‘N-word’ at Soup and Substance event


Michael Daniels, Kent State Student Multicultural Center program coordinator, speaks to students during the “Soup and Substance” discussion at the Kent State Student Multicultural Center on April 5, 2017.

Olivia Williams

The Student Multicultural Center (SMC) hosted “The Soup and Substance: What’s up my N*gga” event in hope to help raise awareness of the controversial topic of people using the “N-word.”

Students from different racial and cultural backgrounds attended the event. They learned about the history of the derogatory term and discussed the topic with peers over soup and refreshments.

The team in the SMC walked students through an open discussion where they could speak freely about where they stand on the topic. Students were able to freely use the word and discuss their thoughts.

“I attended this event because it is always a controversial topic on the usage of the ‘N-word,'” said Emonte Wimbush, a junior fashion merchandising major. “Even though it is a controversial topic, it is always good to talk about because there is always a need to educate people on why it is not good to say the word if you are not a part of the community that the word has been affirmed to.”

The SMC team all played a part in planning the event. Ashley Williams, the assistant director of the SMC, was in charge of putting together action pieces. After the event, she challenged people to think about what they could do to move forward.

“Being a higher education institution, we always have to educate people. However, it takes more than just educating people on this topic in general,” she said. “It is important to understand people’s cultural backgrounds and what things mean.”

Sarah Stephenson, a sophomore early childhood education major, attended the event as a part of a diversity requirement for a peer leadership course she is taking. Stephenson said after attending this event she has learned more about the African-American community and enjoyed hearing some of the students’ first hand experiences.

“I don’t say the ‘N-word’ because I don’t think it is a word that white people are allowed to say,” Stephenson said. “I think that because I didn’t experience anything involving that word, then it is not mine to use.”

Other event participants agreed with Stephenson. Marvin Logan, a 2015 Kent State graduate and former Undergraduate Student Government president, expressed that he does not feel that Caucasian people should use the term either. He said that the use of the “N-word” belongs to the cultural group in which it was used against and were affected by the word.

Logan said that the event was a chance to have an important social and cultural conversation about the power of words. He said that in his opinion, whether the word is positive or negative is irrelevant in this particular conversation.

“I think that what is important in this conversation is that word is for my cultural group to determine the use of the word,” Logan said. “However, in smaller circles, that is up to the user and the listener if they want to use the word and what connotation they want to use it in.”

Olivia Williams is the African-American student life reporter, contact her at [email protected]