Reveals how the slur has both reflected and spread bigotry in America over the last 400 years. Asim pinpoints Thomas Jefferson as the source of our enduring image: in a seminal but now obscure essay, he marshaled a welter of pseudo-science to define the stereotype of a shiftless child-man with huge appetites and stunted self control. Asim reveals how nineteenth-century "science" then colluded with popular culture to amplify this slander. What began as false generalizations became institutionalized in every corner of our society. Asim argues that even when uttered with the opposite intent by hipsters and hip-hop icons, using the slur helps keep blacks at the bottom of America's socio-economic ladder. But, he also shows, there is a place for this word in the mouths and on the pens of those who truly understand its twisted history. Only when we know its legacy can we loosen its grip.--From publisher description.