Thursday, March 4, 2010

The "N" Word........

Oh this word!  You know which one I'm talking about......the "N" word.  I despise this word, and at the same time am very confused by the use of this word.  My personal opinion is the word should not be used at all, by anyone at any time.  Now this opinion coming from a white woman might not hold as much water as if it were coming from a black woman or black man.  However, because I am married to a black man and have a child that is half black this word takes on a whole other meaning for me.  When I hear this word it hurts my heart because I personally feel that it hurts my husband and daughter.  We have had many discussions about the use of this word and who should be "allowed" to use it.  When my daughter was in elementary school I got a call from the Vice Principal saying that someone on the playground had called her the "N" word.  It was a little boy that was actually trying to be "cool" by calling her this word.  It was more of a, "What up my "N**ga," use of the word.  Tat was hurt, the boy was mortified that he hurt her, and I got a call from the school.  The interesting thing was, the call came from the VP who was black and not the Principal who was white.  Was this a coincidence, probably not.  Interesting none the less.  So here is a kid that was trying to be "cool" and he ends up hurting someone by the use of this horrible word.  Where did he learn the word?  Home? Music? Friends? Who knows where he learned it and why he thought it was okay to use it?  It was a perfect example of why it shouldn't be used in conversation in the first place.  Now on the flip side of that story, just yesterday one of my husband's friends used the "N**ga" phrase on his facebook and I was mortified!  I asked my husband if his friend was mad at him.  He laughed and said there was nothing wrong with a black man calling a black man that word.  We have had this conversation many, many times and I totally disagree. I think the word is awful, and should not be used at all.  Who am I to say though?  When two black men use this word in a "friendly" banter is it okay?  Me, personally I don't think so.  I think the word is hateful.  Jamie and I have disagreed on this subject for years.  I think even in friendly conversation it keeps the word alive, and as far as I am concerned it should be very dead and very buried.  So, is there ever a time when it is okay to use the "N" word? 


Teri Cohen said...

Hi Amy,

Oh I so hate this word too!! It isn't allowed in my house. We live in a pretty rural area of Texas and apparently one of his friends was attempting to engage him in a conversation with "What's up my nig*@ ?" Wow, was he ever offended ! Because it has always been our stand that the "N" word means stupid/dumb/ignorant he was mortified that this boy would talk to him like that. Sadder still, the boy did not understand why little Fredie was so offended. I don't think I will ever understand how it's ok for a black man to call another black man "stupid" and they're ok with it (although my husband doesn't like it either). I understand the "stigma" of the word coming from a white man to a black man but I'll never understand how it's ok for anyone to call anyone stupid or use such a derogatory term toward them. I hate to say it, but it shows how far we still have to go. On the flip side, today there are more and more families like ours that are teaching a different way of life !!

Take Care,
Teri Cohen

Amy said...


I couldn't agree more. The history of the word is so horrible and it is just an offensive word period. However when I talked to my husband about it just this morning he said when they use the word back and forth in banter they are basically calling each other "homie." He also said it depends on how you say it and who it is coming from. Interesting. I still disagree, but interesting none the less. He doesn't use it often but when he does it still makes me stop in my tracks. So fascinating how two people can think so differently regarding the exact same word.

And yes on the flip side there ARE more families like ours that are a lesson in love and acceptance just by being us. =)

Thanks for the comment!!

Hugs to your beautiful family..Amy

Anonymous said...

Thanks Amy. Had a super discussion with my 8th grader yesterday because of your blog! Thank you!

Susan W.

Anonymous said...

I love the fact that my son is growing up in a color blind world. He sees no color only friends.


Anonymous said...


We live in such a great diverse neighborhood. My son thought he was black until 2nd grade. Even told his teacher that 'his dad was black' on Martin Luther King Day Parade. We never corrected him, because he was just describing what he saw. I think he was surprised when he found out he was Mexican! He's still pretty colorblind and open at almost 13 years old! Yea!!


Amy said...


I am soooo glad that my blog spurred a conversation between you and your 8th grader! That is exactly why I write it! =) Wonderful.


I hope that one day everyone is color blind. We have a very, very long way to go but by having one person at a time grow up with the "color blind" mentality, little by little the world will be a better place.


I love your story! Hilarious! Isn't it funny how kids are so innocent and just don't care!? It just shows that kids are oblivious to race until they are taught otherwise. We all need to take on the kids perspective and racism would be gone. One can hope right?!

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,

I'm with you on this one. I don't agree with the usage of the word at any time. I do agree with you that it "keeps the word alive." Interesting how you are more offended by it than Jamie. My question is, if its the same as calling someone "homie," then why don't they just say that? At what point did "What's up my nigga?" become the "cooler" language to use?
In other news, I'm talking this coming week with the co-chair of the cultural competence council. We will be discussing what we may potentially do for Loving Day this year. I know we are definitely doing something. It may not be big this first year, but I'm sure it will grow year after year. The Council has been doing a "Celia Commemoration" for the past 5 years and it has gotten a little bigger and better every year. In fact, our council just won an award last week for the work we did on that with the community. The Celia story is the story of a slave that was hung at our courthouse for the accidental killing of her master. She was raped by him repeatedly and bore 2 or 3 children by him. This ugly history happened right here in our county. You can look it up on google and read more about it. There is a book out called, "Celia, A Slave". In fact, this coming December 21st (the anniversary of her death) the Council will welcome the author of this book as our guest speaker! We are all pretty excited about that.
Anyway, check it out if you are interested.
Have a great Sunday!


Amy said...


I'm not sure why the word transpired into being "cool" between black men. If I was a psychatrist and I'm not....=) I would guess that because the word was originally used in hate by whites towards blacks that now they have "permission" to use it how "they" want. I totally get that, but still don't like it no matter how it is used. It still breeds hate for those who want to spread hate when the word is "alive."

I am so happy for you and so proud of you that you are getting so involved with your committee at work. That is wonderful! Truly wonderful!

I had never heard the Celia story. So very sad and so very common back then. This goes back to what just happened at UCSD after the "Compton Party" fallout. A girl hung a noose in the library at UCSD in "protest" of the protests I guess. Not sure what she was thinking but what if Celia had been her relative? How would she feel about the history of the noose then? It's a terrible part of some very ugly history. It's interesting because two things that I have a very very hard time reading about or watching at the movies is slavery or the holocaust. I just can't wrap my brain around humans treating other humans that makes me physically sick. I just can't take it. I can't imagine anyone having to go through that at the hands of a human.

I just hope that with positive words being spread by people like you and everyone else on this blog by books, by news stories, by movies, by speakers, etc. one person at a time will give up hate and live in love.

Have a beautiful Sunday! Amy