How do you handle the N-word in class discussions and reading? We are starting this book next week, and I feel the need to set some parameters before we begin. I already have some African American students asking why we are reading this, etc... I plan on addressing these concerns to the best of my ability, but I sense that some kids are already digging in their heels to turn this into a racial issue. I've already told them, that just as we may come across other offensive words in literature, this is no excuse to use those words. Should I just not say it and not allow anyone else to say it? I don't mean to sound dense, it's just that it's my first year and I'd never want to offend any of my students.