Last fall, a group of university professors wrote a letter in support of the use of the n-word in classrooms, citing the need to protect academic freedom. All of the letter writers were white. Why do white and non-Black people insist on uttering that word? And when asked not to use it, why are they fighting for control of it? That’s the subject of the first episode of our new podcast, Don’t Call Me Resilient, which went live Wednesday.

Ryerson University professor Cheryl Thompson, the author of Uncle: Race, Nostalgia and the Politics of Loyalty, joins us to discuss how North American society spent the past 150 years creating racist stereotypes. She discusses racist language, including words used by comedians like Dave Chappelle. How do these ideas continue to persist? 

We’ve also published an accompanying article by Cheryl taken from her new book, as well as another related piece by Dalla Malé Fofana of Bishop's University who explains why some words and phrases carry a heavy burden.

Also today:


Vinita Srivastava

Producer | Director of Innovation | Senior Editor, Culture + Society

Don't Call Me Resilient

Scholar Cheryl Thompson discusses racist stereotypes, including the words used by comedians like Dave Chappelle, pictured here, in Toronto, in 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Thornhill

What’s in a word? How to confront 150 years of racial stereotypes: Don’t Call Me Resilient EP 1

Vinita Srivastava, The Conversation

In this episode of Don't Call Me Resilient, host Vinita Srivastava and scholar Cheryl Thompson dive into the meaning of the n-word and the 150 years of racism embedded in it.

This illustration of Little Eva and Uncle Tom by Hammatt Billings appears in the first edition of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin.’ Uncle Tom's Cabin & American Culture: A Multi-Media Archive

What’s in a word? How to confront 150 years of racial stereotypes: Don’t Call Me Resilient EP 1 transcript

Vinita Srivastava, The Conversation; Ibrahim Daair, The Conversation

This is the full transcript for Don't Call Me Resilient, episode 1: What’s in a word? How to confront 150 years of racial stereotypes and language.

Today's Featured Articles

Bill Robinson dancing with Shirley Temple in ‘The Little Colonel.’ (20th Century Fox)

How ‘Uncle Tom’ still impacts racial politics

Cheryl Thompson, Ryerson University

'Uncle Tom's Cabin,' the best seller of the 19th century, is not a relic from the past. The complex Uncle Tom figure still has a hold over Black politics.

Communication between people would be very difficult, if not impossible, without discursive memory. Our memories allow us to understand each other or to experience irreconcilable differences. (Shutterstock)

Why some words hurt some people and not others

Dalla Malé Fofana, Bishop's University

Because of context and history, some words and phrases carry a heavy burden with them. Their mere mention can bring back painful memories and problematic situations.

Finding the connection between upset child and frustrated parent can go a long way in those challenging moments. (Shutterstock)

Trapped at home during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s how parents can get through challenging moments

Joanna Cheek, University of British Columbia

Stay-at-home orders, school closures and other pandemic measures mean that parents and children are spending inordinate amounts of time together. Here's how to deal with the inevitable frustrations.

A street sign is displayed at the New York Stock Exchange in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

WallStreetBets is disrupting financial markets — possibly permanently

Pierre-Yann Dolbec, Concordia University

WallStreetBets is now reshaping financial markets: Non-professional market participants, or retail investors, are doing the work traditionally performed by financial advisers and analysts.



Business + Economy

  • How Bezos and Amazon changed the world

    Venkatesh Shankar, Texas A&M University

    Jeff Bezos announced he's stepping down as CEO, almost 27 years after he founded the company as an online bookstore.