Phanatik on his book ‘Navigating the ‘N’ Word’
Brady Goodwin Jr., a founding member of The Cross Movement known as Phanatik, sat down with Rapzilla at Legacy Conference 2016 to discuss his latest book, Navigating the ‘N’ Word: How Keeping “Niggas” Alive is Killing Black Folk.
“‘Nigger’ is arguably the most divisive word in the history of the English language,’ the book description reads. “But it is not just history, the word is very much alive today. Some say that it no longer serves its original purpose and, over the last 50 years, African Americans have commandeered the word and given it new meaning. This book analyzes that claim by surveying the different perspectives taken by black, cultural leaders in the past, as well as the process by which hip-hop culture embraced the term.”
Phanatik, who teaches Hip Hop & Ethics at the Community College of Philadelphia and Gratz High School, was searching for a book on the topic to assign his classes and didn’t like any, so he wrote his own.
“There really weren’t any [books] that were coming from the sociological aspect the way I wanted that would also approach philosophy and theology in an accurate way, and especially deal with the hip-hop culture,” Phanatik said. “People a lot of times, they are either outside the culture and they give it a pass, or they’re too in the culture, so they can’t be critical. I felt like I was uniquely positioned, being in Christ and being in hip hop, where I can be in the culture, be critical, but still be speaking as a part of the culture, not pointing a finger at the culture.”
More than present an argument to win a debate about the N-word, Phanatik said he wanted to have a discussion about it.
“I just think it’s not that you can’t use [the N-word] per say,” he said, “but I think there are some very interesting challenges that can be raised with, if you are going to use it, here’s what you have to keep in mind… I’m not really the black and white kinda guy. There’s a lot of gray with me, and I’m okay with gray. I’m okay with open-endedness. I just like the discussion and the things that come out of that discussion.”
Purchase Navigating the ‘N’ Word on Amazon.
Rapzilla also interviewed Phanatik with his fellow Cross Movement members at Legacy. Watch their interview here.