Cracker, Explained (In 450 Words!)

Illustration for article titled Cracker, Explained (In 450 Words!)
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This is what we’re doing today? A cracker explainer? In 2019?

It is. And I’m as shocked as you are.

Why Damon?

Last week, it was reported that then-Los Angeles Raider Antonio Brown, during a heated argument, called Raiders general manager Mike Mayock a cracker.


Then-Raider Antonio Brown? He’s not with them anymore?

Sigh. Brown was thisclose to being suspended for the alleged cracker, and then he apologized to the team, and then head coach John Gruden said he wasn’t going to be suspended, and then the Raiders fined him for conduct detrimental, then voided the $30 million in guarantees Brown was set to make with them, and then he went to Instagram and asked to be released, and then the Raiders released him, and then as soon as he hung up the phone on the Raiders, he clicked to the other line—where the New England Patriots were apparently on hold—and signed with them. Basically Brown played the Raiders like they were the “ugly girl” from a ’90s teen movie.

(Also, I’ve never said “the alleged cracker” before, and I have to admit it was quite fun.)

I had a bit of fun reading it.

Thanks! So anyway, Brown’s cracker use began one of the five dumbest news stories I’ve ever experienced and the other four involved chicken. A smorgasbord of America’s worst and dimmest people claimed that Brown’s remark was on par with “nigger.”

It’s not, of course, but you can’t be saying cracker all willy-nilly either.

I agree! It is a slur. I’m writing this before boarding a flight to D.C., and if I were to call one of the white flight attendants a cracker, they’d...probably get confused and think I was asking for a cracker, so that’s probably a bad example. It’s just at the beginning of the slur spectrum, at the bottom with “Kappa” and “Lakers fan.” If you want to equate it to nigger, just ask which word is so explosive that it’s known as the n-word. You can’t even say it aloud without flinching. Nigger is the Deebo of slurs.


If you really want to make a white person mad, call them an eggplant like Dennis Hopper did in True Romance. Or maybe just ask why they don’t have cousins.

I guess I’m just confused now, because who still says cracker unironically? 

Antonio Brown apparently. Also, Sherman Hemsley, black men named “Frank,” “Marvin,” and “Richard,” and...that’s the entire list. That’s the most perplexing part of this story. I thought we were past cracker the same way Jay-Z said we were past kneeling, but I guess not. Cracker is hard to kill. Cracker is Steven Seagal.


Did you just call Steven Seagal a cracker?



Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


kidelo (i have a tiktok)

Whatever happened to ‘ofay?’ I’m serious. To me, that is a serious slur for a white person, and it straight up is GONE. How did that happen? That is some Real White Privilege Shit™ right there.