ASU professor weighs in on DVHS controversy

The controversy surrounding six girls who spelled out a racial slur is still on the minds of many across the nation.

A lot of questions remain on how six girls could think using the word is ok. ASU started an entire class on the word, studying how it has been used in the past, and how it is being used today.

If you tour Professor Neal Lester's office at Arizona State University, you'll find the N word.

"It cannot be disconnected from the history that created it," said Dr. Neal Lester.

He uses artifacts and replicas to teach the history of the word. Now he will be adding another piece to his collection, a picture that has sparked outrage showing six Desert Vista High School Girls.

"That was a word that was assigned to Africans by the Portuguese and Spanish in the 1400's in their first encounter, and it very easily became associated with unintelligent, uncivilized, dark, and unattractive, and that has persisted," said Dr. Lester.

The senior girls told district officials that their intentions were not racist. Officials say one of the girls pictured is dating an African-American classmate, and the couple used the word as a term of endearment.

"If we're talking about this about a term of endearment, masters used the word as a term of endearment for their slaves," said Lester.

Lester says though variations of the word are used in hip hop, to him that doesn't change the words meaning.

"This is not just about six letters, the class I created and taught and have published on is really about identity and language, and the fact that words matter," he said.

For Lester, the word will always be tied to it's ugly head no matter how one spells or wears it. He says he does not use any variation of the word in his daily conversations, but he does say the word in lectures when discussing the historical context.