Race Shmace, Whatever

It's just not that important anymore.

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The situation is this: Two friends of mine; one white male, one black female. One very incendiary word. And the black girl wasn't the one who said it.

I watched the following exchange with nervous curiosity, my eyes flitting back and forth as if the two were engaged in an intense game of ping-pong. My white male friend had been standing there talking like the rest of us, peppering his speech with "nigga this" and "nigga that" as he joked and laughed.

"I'm going to need you to refrain from using that word," my black female friend announced. With a short chuckle of confused acceptance, my white friend agreed. And I breathed a sigh of relief.

It had not even occurred to me this would happen. I opened my mouth to say something; what, I'm not too sure. But upon a quick analysis of the situation, I decided to let them work it out. I'm not gonna choose sides.

Things started moving again; the music started back up; I took a long sip of my beer as people chattered in drunken speech around us. The relief I felt then is the relief I expected to feel now, but on deeper reflection I'm not happy about this situation at all.

What I've realized is that they are both right.

What I say next will qualify me, in the eyes of many, to have my black card revoked:

I am with the white guy on this one.

As a black male, you would think my sensitivities would be more closely aligned with those of the black female, considering that the said event had racial overtones that were not gender-related.

You'd be wrong. There are many points of view on the use of the word "nigga."

Some believe that all racist connotations have simply dissipated with time, and thus its incorporation in our generation's lexicon, regardless of color, is fair game. Others see the word as permanently coupled with its racist origins—derogatory and absolutely intolerable, regardless of who uses it—black, white or otherwise.