Brittney Cooper (courtesy of Brittney Cooper)
Brittney Cooper (courtesy of Brittney Cooper)

Brittney Cooper tackles racism, weightism and stereotypes in a gut-wrenching blog post at Salon. During a flight home over the holiday, the woman seated next to her was still texting — rapidly — after the call had gone out to turn off cellphones. Cooper glanced over and caught the last few words of the text: "On the plane, sitting thigh to thigh with a big fat n—ger."

As we boarded, I noticed that this mom and I would be sitting in the same row, I in the window seat, she in the center. As we sat awaiting takeoff, I finished a text conversation and signaled to the flight attendant for a seat-belt extender, a fat passenger's best friend. Then just as the call came to shut our phones off, I glanced over at her, and she was still texting, rapidly. I caught a few words of the end of her text that made me look more intently: "on the plane, sitting thigh to thigh with a big fat [n—ger]. Lucky me."

My breath caught in my chest.

And then there was pain. Humiliation. Embarrassment. Anger.

I still remember the very first time I was called the N-word. It was 1988 or so, and I was in third grade. My classmate, a poor white girl named Vicki, chose to punctuate the end of a childhood spat by yelling, "You DIRTY N******!" Seven- or 8-year-old me was bewildered. And silent. I had never heard that word used that way before. I didn't know what it meant. Yet I felt its force and its vitriolic intent viscerally.


Read Brittney Cooper's entire piece at Salon

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff. 

Share This Story

Get our newsletter