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What to Say When Your White Friend Wants to Use the N-Word

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On Thursday, the British blowhard with a face that looks like a half-filled Hefty bag, Piers Morgan, wrote a piece explaining why black people shouldn’t be mad when white people use the word “nigga.”

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It all started because of a video of a group of white sorority girls singing the song “Gold Digger” at some white-girl event I presume was named “Beckypalooza” because ... you’re welcome. Morgan reached the conclusion that if black people don’t like it, we should blame Kanye because—after all—he was the one who wrote the song. This was his thesis:

“Angry About White Girls Singing N***as? Be Furious at Kanye”

“So what? They didn’t write the song, Kanye West did. They didn’t make millions of dollars from that song, Kanye West did ... Superstars like Kanye West target and exploit white audiences for their music just as enthusiastically as they target and exploit black audiences. So how can they, or anybody else for that matter, complain if a white person sings the very words they have written in No1 hit song?”

Piers Morgan, Daily Mail

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This highlights a recurring question that many Caucasians have openly asked their black friends but quickly dropped in favor of tending to their bloody lip. To solve this problem once and for all, we have provided you with a handy script so that you will know what to say when or if this subject ever arises:

OK, Chad. (You will not have to substitute the actual name of your friend here. His name will invariably be Chad. Or Sarah. But probably Chad. Even if her name is Sarah, feel free to call her Chad.) Allow me to explain:

Chad, I know you aren’t used to being told no as a white male. I know your existence is defined by your belief that everything in the universe belongs to you. The belief that you can simply take a flag, plant it into the soil of anything and declare it yours is part of your genetic code, so while others blame you for things like gentrification, colonization, appropriation and even the theft and commodification of actual human beings, I want you to know that I am not like that, Chad.

Chad, has someone ever used your toothbrush without asking? It’s kind of disgusting, isn’t it? It’s not that you think their mouth is nasty or that they have periodontal disease; you just don’t want to let them use it because it’s yours. You have that prerogative.

Now imagine if someone had actually poisoned you by giving you a contaminated toothbrush before. Imagine that when you digested the toothbrush poison, you passed out and that person kidnapped you and locked you in a tiny room. Imagine them raping and torturing you for years, and every time they did it, they’d use that toothbrush to sodomize you. They poked you in the eye with it. They sharpened it into a stick and stabbed you with it.

Then one day you escaped and found out there were people like you who had survived years of the same thing. And instead of tossing that toothbrush into the garbage, you cherished it. You used it to remind yourself of how far you had come. Some of the other survivors never wanted to use that toothbrush again, but others turned it into a point of pride. It became inextricably intertwined with your identification. That toothbrush became part of your shared experience with other survivors.

Now, Chad, I want you to think about what you’d say if someone who looked like the man who tortured you asked if he could use your toothbrush. Would you remember how he tortured you with it? Would you remember how he poisoned you and kidnapped you?

But, Chad, if you really want to say nigga, I will allow it on one condition:

You have to ride with me to the blackest part of town and scream it at the top of your lungs. You don’t get to say it quietly to music without the hazard of knowing what it means. You don’t get to enjoy the benefit but none of the consequence. You don’t get to use it emptily without knowing the weight it carries. You can’t ignore the history of it. How people who look like you used it as a weapon. As a knife.

I know you think, “Why can you say it, but if I say it, I’m considered a racist?” There’s only one way to illustrate this double standard, Chad:

You have to let me fuck your mother.

Why is that offensive, Chad? So you’re telling me that if I went to your mother’s house, pulled out my penis and asked her why I can’t have sex with her, she would be offended? Your father gets to fuck her. Why should it be off-limits to me? Just because her body belongs to her, why should it be off-limits to me?

Damn, Chad. I never knew you were such a racist.

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.

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DISCUSSION

Friday story time! We’re at the Preakness. Like any major day-drinking event, groups that otherwise would not associate with each other (friends of friends of friends etc.), often with remarkable interactions.

Names have been changed to protect the guilty, but a dude we don’t really know (Tommy, white) is pontificating about the world, and The N-Word, Hard “R”and all, comes rolling out of his mouth. Our friend (Trey, Black) turns around, and brings his 6' 6", former D 1-Baller frame into full relief, and just stares at Tommy.

Instead of apologizing and walking away, Tommy goes with the failed strategy of equivocating, trying to claim that it wasn’t that big a deal, because he was Italian, and wouldn’t care if someone called him a “wop.” I see to remember that he even threw the N-Word in another time for good measure.

Rather than crush his skull, Trey leans right into his face. Anticipating righteous violence, a hush fell over our group, and the onlookers that always show up when hands seem imminent. Realizing his massive error, Tommy’s eyes stated flitting from side, looking for any out. Finding none, I imagine he tried calculating if the beers would dull the pain.

After what felt like an eternity, Trey says:

“Stop using the wrong words.”

Tommy silently nodded his agreement, then moved his ass far away. Peels of laughter were the soundtrack for his retreat.