The Washington Post did a long, interactive feature on the current status of the “n-word” in American culture. Among the many people interviewed: Secret Skin‘s Open Mike Eagle, along with his colleague Nocando. Their thoughts are definitely worth your time. You can skip Piers Morgan’s.
My thoughts, as a middle-aged white guy whose one galactically minor experience with bigotry was a couple kids in grade school who thought Catholics were weird? They’re pretty simple.
- White people: Don’t say it. It’s awful. You’ll probably get grounded/suspended/fired if you use it. No one will feel bad for you.
- White people: If an African-American uses it, and you trot out the “Rapper X* can say it, why can’t I?” bullshit, know that you are the very worst, but kudos on your career in AM talk radio. I really like how Mike puts it:
I’m a person who believes in in-group versus out-group privileges and respect. So like if my experience is the ‘n*****’ experience, then I feel like I have free license to do what I want with [the word]. Like, people that don’t have to have their head on a swivel in certain parts of Alabama, I don’t feel like you should be using that word like it’s just cool. Because it’s not just a cool thing.
- African-American people: you wanna grab a beer or coffee or something?
*Rapper X is not an actual hip-hop artist.