More than one “triggerish” incident: George-Anne newspaper presents its “Let’s Talk About the N-word” project

About a month or so ago, we showcased a story from Georgia Southern’s George-Anne student newspaper, in which the writers discussed a racially charged incident that went viral between two incoming roommates.

After sending a few “getting to know you” texts, the white student apparently thought she was texting another friend and wrote that her new African-American roommate didn’t “look too n****rish.” (EDITOR’S NOTE: She used the full word. I will not.)  Once she realized that went to her new roommate, the white student blamed auto-correct, saying she meant “triggerish” as in “nothing that triggered a red flag.”

The paper covered the incident as it progressed, asking the solid follow-up questions about what will happen to each student, how the university dealt with the situation and what students thought in general about the issue. However, the staff of the George-Anne took it a step further in attempting to engage the larger topic of race, the “n” word and how the campus really feels about this often awkward and painful issue:

“Staff members tabled at different locations around campus and asked not only students, but faculty and staff to give us their take on the N-word. We came up with questions to help participants formulate their opinions such as:
–Is the usage of the n-word in private still racism? Why?
–Where do you draw the line on the usage of the n-word?
–Do you think the n-word should be considered free speech? Why or why not?

“Students were asked to write down their responses to these question on note cards that were provided at each tabling, or they could just write their honest and raw thoughts on the racial term.”

The paper received more than 300 note cards with responses on them and the staff published them all in a special section. (You can find them here if you scroll down and click on the Issuu version of the paper.)

This was a heck of an ambitious project and a nice read. I reached out to the editor to learn more about the experience the staff had with this. If he gets back to me, I’ll add some more to the post. In the mean time, the project is worth your time. Give it a read.

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