While activists and leaders throughout the African-American community recently celebrated the "burial" of one of history's most ill-regarded racial epithets, the white American majority shrugged, and dusted off a shelf-full of less-prominent yet still effective racist expressions.
Highly regarded author and African American studies professor Julian I. Gallaher III, speaking from his office at Tillman University, is skeptical that the symbolic "burial" will benefit black self-perception or enlighten inter-racial dialogue. "Ranging from the obviously offensive canon popular with unapologetic bigots to the wince-inducing code-speak of liberal intelligentsia, Caucasian America still has a rich vocabulary of derogatory terms with which to belittle people who have, in their estimation, too much melanin."
Gallaher's insights were well received by Tillman president J. Lawrence Towle. "Professor Gallaher is a bright, insightful man," said Towle, "for someone working through the obvious mental challenges common to people who have come from circumstances such as his."
White non-academics were less that florid about the demise of the N-word. Sipping an Old Style on the front porch of his Bridgeport bungalow, off-duty Chicago police officer Patrick Duggan noted, "we were ordered to stop using that word friggin' years ago anyway. We just call them 'Canadians' or something like that."
Similarly, Arkansas Wal-Mart cashier and NASCAR enthusiast Millie Mae Slocum exclaimed: "What's the damn difference? Long as they stay the hell out of my sight."
Overall, the white majority does not appear to be suffering any great sense of loss from this event, and while many miss the visceral impact of the original controversial word, they are fine expressing their racism with any number of alternative expressions.
"True, low-grade alternatives to the N-word didn't feature prominently in To Kill a Mockingbird, and they certainly would have deprived many Quentin Tarantino films of their punch," added Gallaher, "but they still allow racists - both the vicious and visible southern style, and the patronizing, insular northern style - to express their disdain and disregard for people of color."
Duggan, who has no problem with blacks as long as they "settle the fuck down" was equally dismissive. "What's the diff? I don't like a guy, I don't like a guy. I mean, let's call a spade a spade, right?"
Members of the hip-hop music community did not return repeated calls requesting comment for this article.