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Scoot Blog: The N-word on trial

Since the use of the N-word among blacks, particularly among young blacks, has become part of casual conversations and pop culture within black communities, we have all heard the point made, presumably by whites, “If they can use the N-word and it’s not racist – why can’t I use it?” Has a decision by a New York jury finally answered that question?  

A federal jury in New York has ruled that the use of the N-word in the workplace – regardless of the race of who uses it – is hostile and discriminatory.  But does this ruling finally settle what many believe is a double-standard?
Brandi Johnson, a 38-year-old black employee, was awarded $250,000 in damages and compensation last week in a lawsuit against her black employer, Rob Carmona.  Additionally, the jury awarded $30,000 in punitive damages to Ms. Johnson.

After a 4-minute N-word-laced rant by her boss, Rob Carmona, Brandi Johnson said, “I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed.”  The New York jury ruled that the use of the N-word in the workplace is hostile and discriminatory and not a term of endearment, as many blacks argue.

If a jury has decided that a black-on-black use of the N-word in the workplace is wrong, does that establish a precedent for judging the use of the N-word among blacks in general?

As someone who has studied communications over the years, I do not think the jury’s decision in this case reflects on the casual and pop culture use of the N-word in the black community.  While I condemn the use of the N-word by anyone in any situation, I do understand the difference between whites using the N-word, blacks using the N-word to criticize in the workplace and the casual use of the N-word among young blacks.

When a white person refers to a black person by using the N-word, the undisputable implication is degradation.  When a black berates another black using the N-word, the implication is degradation.  Since there were blacks who sold blacks during slavery, it is reasonable to assume that one black could use the N-word to dehumanize another black.

The distinction comes when blacks use the N-word to refer to each other with    non-threatening intent.  I have overheard countless uses of the N-word among young black males in New Orleans and while I don’t like the word, I am not offended and understand that the intent of the word in those situations is endearing and not meant to degrade the status of another human being.

With communications between humans there is intent and reception.  Often we attempt to communicate something with one intent, but the reception of the content of the communication is not what we intended.

The source of the communication is also an essential factor.  In comedy, an overweight person making fun of overweight people can be funny, but if the same material comes from a person who is slim – the content is uncomfortable or degrading.  Blacks can tell jokes and say things about blacks that would not be received the same if expressed by a comedian of another race.  The same can be said of Hispanics, Asians and Indians.  This may be defined by some as a double-standard, but it is just the result of human nature.

And why is there such a crusade to expose this perceived double-standard?  Why do some whites seem to be fighting for acceptance of their use the N-word?  If a white person refers to a black person by using the N-word, how would that not be considered derogatory?

One of the frustrating obstacles that is preventing an honest conversation about race relations in America is the failure to understand another person’s point-of-view.  I don’t need to use the N-word and neither do you.  If you are part of the campaign that seems to be fighting for equal use of the N-word, I have to ask – why?

Tags :  
Topics : Social Issues
Social :
Locations : New OrleansNew York
People : Brandi JohnsonRob Carmona

09/03/2013 6:16PM
Scoot Blog: The N-word on trial
Please Enter Your Comments Below
09/04/2013 4:26AM
u need to lighten up and stick to other topics!
09/04/2013 10:04AM
The ultimate SHAME is allowing a moron like Obama to become
president just because he has black skin. There are many competent qualified black men and women, but Obama is NOT one of them. Obama has been reduced in recent days to the pathetic figure he always was but a corrupt media and mostly ignorant voting population made this clown a king.
09/05/2013 12:10AM
No sane foreign leader would respect Obama. He is a joke ....
Obama has NO credibility with men of honor. He is just a hip hop celebrity that has NO business being president.
09/10/2013 9:25AM
Dog feces has more value than Obama.
Dog feces has more value than Obama.
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