N Word
Jabari Asim

Book cover image

Narrated By: Mirron Willis

Duration: 9 hours and 25 minutes

What to expect

In The N Word, a renowned cultural critic untangles the twisted history and future of racism through its most volatile word.

In 2003, the book Nigger started an intense conversation about the use and implications of that epithet. The N Word moves beyond that short, provocative book by revealing how the word has both reflected and spread the scourge of bigotry in America.

Asim claims that, even when uttered by hipsters and hip-hop icons, the slur helps keep blacks at the bottom of America’s socioeconomic ladder. But he also proves there is a place for this word in the mouths and on the pens of those who truly understand its twisted history—from Mark Twain to Dave Chappelle to Mos Def. Only when we know its legacy can we loosen this slur’s grip on our national psyche.


Ethnic studies, Language: reference and general, Sociolinguistics, Society and culture: general, Social discrimination and equal treatment

Listen to a sample

“A sharp-eyed musing on the history of the word and how it bears, or should bear, on a media-driven culture that is dangerously ahistorical, especially in matters of race.”

Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Important, timely, and much-needed...a brilliant and bracing history lesson.”

Washington Post

“Provocative and compelling...Asim’s book is not just the etymology of the word but also a capsule history of racism in America.”


“[Asim] sweeps over this sensitive and contradictory terrain—including black Americans’ use of the word—with practicality, while dispensing gentle provocations…Clear, engaging writing increases the pleasure.”

Publishers Weekly

“[Asim] is most eloquent when relating how African Americans have been characterized in our culture; how the word nigger has been employed to oppress, belittle, dismiss, humiliate, and ridicule black people; and how they themselves have increasingly used it to satirize and oppose that oppression.”

Library Journal

 “Informed, sensible and impassioned.”