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"The N Word": A Review by Olivia Okocha

The following review was written by Olivia Okocha, a Chicago high school student, as part of Columbia College Chicago's Columbia Links journalism program for high school students. RogerEbert.com has partnered with the Chicago Urban League and Columbia Links to mentor these students and to give them a platform for their writing. Read more about the program here.


"The N Word"

Directed by Todd Williams

3 stars

“The N Word” is a very inspirational, educational movie that enlightens and teaches the audience a lot about the N-word. The movie focuses on the stigma behind the word and its impact on our society today. 

Many think the N-word originated in the 1800s during slavery when the whites would call their slaves names, the N-word being one of them, and that from there, after the civil rights era, black people just took the word and changed the meaning and the ending to be more positive and to forget about the gravity of the word. But this movie showed that the N-word is much more than a word that whites called their slaves. 

In one part of the movie, they showed an interesting segment in which they asked African-Americans where they thought the N-word came from. Most of them did not know, which was surprising. Towards the end it was mentioned that it could be from the Dutch, but no one actually knows. 

It was surprising because the thought of the origin of the N-word never occurred to me prior to seeing the movie. Another part of the movie that was really interesting was when they asked different people about how they feel about the N-word and if it should be censored. It is very important to add segments like these in which the public is questioned and states its opinion because the audience can relate and learn about different ways of viewing things. If not for segments like these in the documentary, people would probably still think about the N-word the same way they walked in. But, fortunately, the filmmaker did such a great job getting his point across. He ended the movie giving the audience a different insight, not just on the N-word, but on society and our culture as well. 

The filmmaker interviewed historians, actors, singers, comedians and average people. It brought a different feel to a documentary that did not make it boring, but funny and relatable. The segments in which people would act and speak as a person from the slave era were very entertaining as well. They were very creative and made the learning experience of slavery better. The audience could actually hear how they talk, making it better and more relatable. 

The movie was really enjoyable and it was well put together. The movie was packed with a lot of content and applied great works of creativity. It is a great recommendation for others to see as well!


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