No Place for the ‘N’ Word

Some weeks back a misdirected e-mail appeared on my computer monitor—the author intended it for ‘a different John’ apparently—but the content was so surprising I had to read it several times before determining it was real. 


This ‘joke’ used the ‘n#####-rigged’ phrase, associating it with the prospect of an African-American being elected as President of the United States, and the need to re-engineer policies and practices…the Caucasian author found it amusing.  After exhaling a few times and evaluating response options, I chose to challenge this in kind with a return e-mail rather than any number of much more confrontational or damaging tactics.


To start I inquired as to whether the e-mailed ‘joke’ was supposed to land in my In Box (it wasn’t) and that led to disclosure that the intended recipient was an African American friend of the author!  Huh?  The author said this buddy ‘of the minority persuasion’ doesn’t get upset over such things, instead, they occasionally exchange ‘off color’ expressions without any negative feelings. 


You could almost hear the air come out of the author’s gut when I asked about referencing this ‘joke’ in my blog and assigning it to him and his nationally known company—to see how the corporate office, media and customer base might react—as you would imagine that was met with profuse apologies at a ‘lapse’ which led to this mistake.


To personalize and drive home the point being made even more, I asked the author how he thought the dozens and dozens of black Club members in attendance that day might feel about his ‘joke’ and that went unanswered. 


There is no place for the ‘n’ word and others like it in our society—not out of ignorance or by casually repeating the work of another person—we must challenge such behavior in general and especially if it is demonstrated in front of children.  After all, our commissions and omissions can both be instructional….let’s teach the right things to kids.


2 thoughts on “No Place for the ‘N’ Word

  1. In my previous place of employment, I worked in a majority African American nonprofit environment. There were only two white people there, and was is actually became a good friend of mine. Well my friend would often say that she was a black woman trapped in a white woman’s body and also try to use language commonly associated with black youth to show that she was “down” with black people. One day she was talking to one of our black male coworkers and jokingly said something to the affect of “what’s up my n*****” and I looked at her and asked had she lost her mind. She then said “oh he said it was ok for me to say that” since she assumed she was “one of us.” I then proceded to tell him and her how that was not appropriate and how she would eventually get her behind beat if she continued to use that term and especially if she was caught saying it in front of the wrong person. The problem is that she and many other whites listen to rap music, which uses the phrase quite often. This gives whites and others the assumption that it is acceptable for them to use it. That’s why I agree with you that the “n” word has absolutely no place in this society….from blacks, whites, latinos or any other race that thinks it is cool to say it. The word is too emotionally tied to the degredation of black people and is truly hurtful to many of us especially when said by someone outside of our race.

    1. Well, clearly I was stunned at receiving such a ‘joke’ and felt it deserved a sharp response. Your story is also a great example of ignorance at best. Thanks for your comment…

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