Nigger: it is arguably the most consequential social insult in American history, though, at the same time, a word that reminds us of "the ironies and dilemmas, tragedies and glories of the American experience." In this tour de force, distinguished Harvard Law School professor Randall Kennedy--author of the highly acclaimedRace, Crime, and the Law-- "put[s] a tracer onnigger," to identify how it has been used and by whom, while analyzing the controversies to which it has given rise. With unprecedented candor and insight Kennedy explores such questions as: How shouldniggerbe defined? Is it, as some have declared, necessarily more hurtful than other racial epithets? Do blacks have a right to useniggereven as others do not? Should the law viewniggerbaiting as a provocation strong enough to reduce the culpability of a person who responds violently to it? Should a person be fired from his or her job for sayingnigger? How might the destructiveness ofniggerbe assuaged? To be ignorant of the meanings and effects ofnigger, says Kennedy, is to render oneself vulnerable to all manner of peril. This book brilliantly and sensitively addresses that concern.