Naylor is insulted by her peer with the word "nigger" in the third-grade and is confused about the word's meaning.
Third-grader Naylor comes home to ask her mother what the word "nigger" meant. In response her mother explains the phrase.
Naylor realizes that the phrase that her peer used to insult her was one she had already hear of from her family. Simply in a different context.
Naylor begins to understand that words hold power because of the consensus, or the people. Depending on the individual the word nigger could have different meanings. Such as slang or an insult.
The author's purpose was to inform. Naylor wanted to inform her audience that the people give words their power and words can have different meanings. Such as the word "nigger".
In my personal opinion, the word "nigger" should not be used in a negative context to offend people or uncomfortable. Although I am fine if it is used with someone who is comfortable with the term and understands the context.