Dear Black People,
For starters, I would like to be clear that this letter isn’t to all of us. I want to address how often some black people give out a “free pass” to non-black people allowing them to use the N-word. The N-word, in my opinion, shouldn’t be said at all, but I respect the black community for reclaiming it and making it exclusive to black people. So if you are black and want to use it, go for it. If you are black and don’t want to use it, that’s perfectly fine also. Here is why you shouldn’t let your non-black friends use it, regardless of your stance on the word.
The N-word is very offensive when coming from the wrong person. So, you may be okay with them using that word but, other black people may not feel the same way. They may be approached for saying the N-word and “my black friend told me I can say it” will usually not be enough of an excuse to extinguish the situation. For your friend’s safety, you shouldn’t give out a N-word pass to them or anyone. The N-word has a lot of power, anger, and history behind it.
In the early 1800’s the N-word was defined as a derogative name when referring to African Americans. Still to this day, in the 21st century, it remains a principle term of white racism. It is clear as to why some African Americans have sensitivity to that term, especially from the mouth of someone who’s ancestors didn’t endured the pain derived from that word.
If that isn’t enough motivation as to why you shouldn’t tell your non-black friend it’s okay to say the N-word, here’s another reason why. You are not the spokesperson for an entire race of people. What you think is okay doesn’t apply to the entire African American community. In order to be safe, just don’t give out privileges that you have no right to give out. Even if “you know they aren’t racist” or “they have always been my friend” is not a valid excuse to allow them to say the word. Trust me, they will not die from not saying it. It isn’t funny to ask your non-black friends to say the N-word for your amusement, if they know they shouldn’t say it, don’t push them to!
If they ask you can they use the N-word, ask them why they want to say it. Here are a few clear unacceptable reasons: “I hear you use it, why can’t I?”, “It’s no big deal, I’m not saying it with the -er ending”, or “I don’t mean it in the racist way, you know that.” Truth is, there is no good reason as to why a non-black person should want to use a term that they cannot relate to especially when it is from a hurtful past. At the end of the day, your answer should be “no”, you don’t owe them an explanation as to why they can’t say it. The N-word word doesn’t apply to them and it never will.