Who Can Use The N-Word? That’s The Wrong Question

Editor’s Note: This article discusses a derogatory term related to race, and there’s no avoiding its usage. Just a heads up.

Constantly, the disorderliness of actual existence clashes with the rigid and fixed principles, driven by the desire to organize the world orderly and uncomplicated.

Earlier this week, Rob Carmona, a former employee named Brandi Johnson, sued Carmona, a man from New York City, claiming that she was harassed by him and that the national attention gained because of what Carmona said on a recorded document at the office.

Carmona was saying on the recording, “Seriously… Individuals of African descent enjoy pretending, but they are quite intelligent. Both you and her… I am going to provide it.”

The federal jury hearing the case granted Johnson $280,000 in compensation. Both Johnson, the employee, and Carmona, her boss, are African American. Oh, indeed.

However, the act-like-niggers part received the majority of the focus — Carmona allegedly referred to another woman as a “prostitute” and disregarded a different complaint of sexual harassment by claiming that the woman in question was “too unattractive” to be subjected to such behavior — suggesting that their workplace had more concerning dynamics beyond just this offensive remark.

From the article by the Associated Press.

Only one criterion. The debates arise. There should not be a contradictory criterion, so that we can identify wrongdoers (and prevent ourselves from transgressing), but we handle it as if there should be unequivocal, straightforward regulations regarding its utilization. With intricate, unpleasant pasts embedded in it, this is an exceptionally elusive term. Oh yes, the traditional conversation about the “racial double standard”. To confirm.

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Here are a few methods individuals propose handling this exceptionally radioactive term.

The extent to which they presuppose, is that arbiters who can grant permission to say the n-word are the ones who set and enforce the rules. It is true only in the narrowest sense that those prescriptions might mean it’s how someone should say it.

The weather in this city is always unpredictable.Output: The climate in this town is constantly uncertain.

In certain contexts where the term itself is being discussed, refraining from uttering it could result in disapproval. However, black individuals are able to use the word “nigger” with each other without facing repercussions. The recent Carmona case exemplifies that there is no definitive prohibition on black individuals using this term amongst themselves. Although there may be consequences, anyone has the ability to say it. The question becomes misguided when non-black individuals inquire about why they are not permitted to use it while black individuals can.

Last year, when Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted a photo captioned “Jay Z and Kanye West from a concert in France,” it ignited a minor controversy. Russell Simmons, a friend of Paltrow, rushed to her defense, saying that it’s not because it’s Simmons within, but rather because it’s Paltrow’s music industry friends who are more forgiving and willing to extend the benefit of doubt to her. The larger Twitterverse of people who have different orientations were much less willing to extend the benefit of doubt to her, but Paltrow’s power to give a blanket pass to anyone else was predictably much less.

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The ongoing and unpleasant narrative about race in America is deeply affected by the use of derogatory language, which is likely to be considered unique and offensive. When people speak about others who are different from them, their respective backgrounds and the relative power they hold in society become significant factors. If an employee were to complain about sexual harassment to their boss, it might be grounds for a complaint, but in a personal setting, two lovers might use affectionate terms like “baby.” The context in which language is used plays a central role in its interpretation.

When we talk about race, broadly speaking, it requires us to actually acknowledge that we have different histories and live in different spaces, with our own understandings (shared or not-so-shared) and relationships of power. Because of the context in which we live, it is always more likely for Gwyneth Paltrow’s words to be resonant and powerful than an intent speaker’s, and we cannot control certain words that we choose to use when invoking those particular relationships and histories.

Workplace harassment, which includes a wide range of abusive behaviors in the workplace, is exemplified by the incident involving Carmona’s skit titled “Black People vs. Niggas,” which received different responses from Rock, Chris, and Paltrow on Twitter. This incident demonstrates that there is a universal understanding that using the term “nigger” among black individuals can be seen as both affectionate and offensive, depending on the specific context. This argument was made by lawyer Carmona in the aforementioned workplace harassment case.

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We need to be more fluid and thoughtful in navigating the many spaces that require different levels of clarity and conscientiousness, as we are often misunderstood. We need a stronger sense of why things are received differently in another place. We need to better understand our contexts, but we don’t need universal rules if we had them, we just need to enforce them.

If we venture outside the very tiny universe of safe interactions and behaviors, there will be consequences that we need to accept. Some actions may seem simple or neat, but they can turn out to be disastrous.

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