Nothing Compares to the N-Word

It drips of blood and drags a brutal history. No other term can cause as much harm.

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For weeks I felt as if I was a little out of sync with everyone else, on the edge. I choked back hysteria. I considered making a Molotov cocktail and hurling it at the courthouse, even going so far as to drive past the courthouse at night to see if there were security guards around. A month later, I was too exhausted from my thoughts to do anything. Also, I was afraid that if the courthouse burned to the ground, I would still feel dissatisfied.

That's the same way it is with calling a white person a "creepy-ass cracker." It really is all a frustrated, scared, even hurt black person can do to express his or her outrage at the audacity of racism to still exist, year after year, decade after decade. Or, I suppose, a black person could try to defend himself, try to stand his ground. But history has shown that black people, especially black men, who try this approach do not fare well.

Patrice Gaines is a veteran journalist, an author and a motivational speaker. She is also a national-justice advocate working to reform America's prison system. She lives in South Carolina.

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