Jury: N-Word Wrong Even Among Blacks


When black people use the n-word, we like to say it's different, right? Unlike whites, who use the n-word toward blacks in a hateful way, blacks use the n-word as a term of endearment, never with malice.


Of course, some disagree, claiming that it's a double standard that blacks can use the n-word but whites can't. Brandi Johnson of New York, for one, says that not all uses of the n-word by black people toward other black people are positive or meant to be kind.

A Manhattan jury agreed with Johnson, a black woman who worked at Strive, a New York City-based employment agency, and sued her black boss, Rob Carmona, after he admonished her with an n-word-laced rant, according to the Associated Press.

But 38-year-old Brandi Johnson told jurors that being black didn't make it any less hurtful to be the target of what her attorney called Carmona's "four-minute nigger tirade" about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.

Johnson, who taped the March 2012 remarks after her complaints about his verbal abuse were disregarded, said she fled to the restroom and cried for 45 minutes.

"I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed," Johnson testified.

Carmona's defense was that as a black man, it was virtually impossible for him to mean the word in a negative way.

In his testimony, Carmona defended his use of the word, saying he used it with Johnson to convey that she was "too emotional, wrapped up in her, at least the negative aspects of human nature."

Then he explained that the word has "multiple contexts" in the black and Latino communities, sometimes indicating anger, sometimes love.

Carmona said he might put his arm around a longtime friend in the company of another and say: "This is my nigger for 30 years."

"That means my boy, I love him, or whatever," he said.

Thus far the jury has awarded Johnson $250,000 in compensatory damages. It returns to court today to decide on punitive damages. 

Read more at ABC News.

Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at VerySmartBrothas.com and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.