I'm a non-Black prof who teaches lit by Black authors that uses the n-word, where that word is very important to the text and we have to discuss it. There is absolutely no reason pedagogically or otherwise for me to utter it.
But of course the reason these profs want to say it has nothing to do with the word itself, and everything to do with a liberal conception of freedom, which is always predicated on the unfreedom of others (here, predicated on anti-Blackness).
It is an impasse we will continue to encounter as long as we leave this term "freedom" undefined or defined as the freedom of the individual. These profs invoke "freedom" here, the freedom to say whatever one wants, while leaving its corresponding unfreedom untouched.
Meanwhile, the real threat is the powerful "free" suppressing those who have been "unfree" from interrogating that (un)freedom, exposing it. Which academics are getting surveilled? Which depts are being defunded? The logical of liberal freedom is a trap that must be dismantled.
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