Jabari Asim is an associate professor of creative writing at Emerson College. He has written 13 books, including The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, And Why; A Taste Of Honey: Stories; and Only The Strong, a novel. The N Word explores the role of language in the shaping of both this republic and the African-American culture that flourishes at the heart of it. The “n word” merits particular attention because it functions as a metaphor for this country’s history of tangled relations between blacks and whites. If America remains a noteworthy, international symbol as a melting pot and laboratory of interracial experiment, then the persistence of the “n word” must be the yardstick by which progress (or lack of it) is measured. The N Word examines both the power and the curious popularity of this notorious and dangerous slur, from its historical origins to its modern-day ubiquity.