"Nigger!" as a Problem in the Law
Randall L. Kennedy   |   2001 U. Ill. L. Rev.

In this essay, originally delivered as part of the David C. Baum Memorial Lecture Series on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights at the University of Illinois College of Law, Professor Randall L. Kennedy examines the use of the word "nigger" as a problem in the law.

He argues that while use of the "N-word" should be limited, it should not be eradicated. He believes that "erasing it altogether would, among other things, destroy a significant part of our cultural heritage that is used in positive as well as negative ways." Finally, Professor Kennedy posits that "nigger" may be undergoing a transformation to a "term of derision . . . [affixed] to targets regardless of race."

*Professor of Law at Harvard Law School