Langston Hughes Snips

The Word N

The word nigger to colored people of high and low degree is like a red rag to a bull. Used rightly or wrongly, ironically or seriously, of necessity for the sake of realism or impishly for the sake of comedy, it doesn’t matter. Negroes do not like it.

The word nigger, you see, sums up for us who are colored all the bitter years of insult and struggle in America: the slave-beatings of yesterday, the lynchings of today, the Jim Crow cars, the only movie show in town with its sign FOR WHITES ONLY, the restaurants where you may not eat, the jobs you may not have, the unions you cannot join,. The word niggerin the mouths of little white boys at school, the word nigger in the mouths of foremen on the job, the word nigger across the whole face of America! Nigger! Nigger! Like the word Jew in Hitler’s Germany.

The CLERK

Are You A Mexican Or A Negro

Why?

Because if you’re a Mexican I’ll serve you. If you’re colored I won’t.

I’m colored.

The clerk turned to wait on someone else.

I knew I was home in the USA