Hi Black Man.

My boyfriend and I have a disagreement about the n word. He doesn’t understand why it is fine for black people to call each other that, but not OK for others to call a black person that. He agrees that it is definitely not a nice word to use, but thinks therefore black people shouldn’t be using it either. I explained to him it’s because of centuries of being called that and other terms by white people as a purposeful, demeaning insult. When it comes from another black person, it is not perceived that way. But if today it comes from a white person, it could very well be an insult. We are both white, and do not know that many black people. I realized there is no way I could really relate to this issue. I needed a black person’s perspective on this, and I like your blog. Thanks so much.

Wondering Whitey

The Black Man:

Hi Wondering Whitey,

When a disparaging name from any race that is used by a person outside of that race it is always looked at as insulting unless the individuals are friends and it is done in a humorous manner. Time and place are extremely relevant for even that to occur.

I understand your boyfriends’ perception on the use the “N” word. The “N -Word” is not a good word to use period. When Black people use it amongst themselves it is used in a “light –hearted” context, which is not intended to be demeaning in any way.

The major issue is blacks use the “N-Word” so freely in public and it is all over many social and multimedia platforms (i.e. Hip-Hop songs and in movies) that it raises eyebrows to those who are not Black. Hip-Hop has given off a perception to the masses that it is almost cool to use the “N Word”

There is no other ethnicity that I have witnessed that uses such a disparaging term about themselves so freely in a public arena.

I do not agree with the use of the word used so openly in public. I have been a public place where black people have been talking freely using the “N-Word” and all the non- Black people around overhearing the conversation have a shocked and confused expression on their face.

If I were not Black I may have the same thought as your boyfriend has. It would be confusing to someone that is not African-American to hear Black people call each other a term that has been insulting to their heritage and would fight in a heart beat with anyone else that would use the term.

I feel the “N-Word” is not appropriate and should not be used so freely in our society.

I hope this gives you a better viewpoint on this matter.