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Many white people wonder why there is a difference between when Afro-Americans and whites can use the n-word.

The reason is called desensitization.

When Blacks use that word they are practicing a social mechanism for protecting their group.

At one time in the past, and still continuing today, how a black person responded to the n-word could be a matter of life or death.  As a protective mechanism, black people would use that word in their group so that they would learn not respond to that word automatically.

So whites cannot use the n-word to blacks until it has lost all its meanings in our society as an insult.

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Comment Preferences

  •  As I once told someone.. (5+ / 0-)

    Don't use that word at all, unless you're willing to stand up and defend my autistic child with echolic speech when he repeats it having no clue what it means. He didn't learn it in my house or hear it from us. There's no good reason to use it at all.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sat May 10, 2014 at 06:44:16 PM PDT

  •  I believe the answer is never, (10+ / 0-)

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

    by ZenTrainer on Sat May 10, 2014 at 06:55:59 PM PDT

  •  When to use it? Never. (11+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat May 10, 2014 at 07:09:21 PM PDT

  •  It's been several years since I replaced ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calvino Partigiani, lineatus

    "nerd" with "dweeb".

    "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." -- Arnaud Amaury

    by terremoto on Sat May 10, 2014 at 07:09:52 PM PDT

  •  Never. (5+ / 0-)

    Someday the Washington football team will do the same.

    I'm not serious. Seriously.

    by IB JOHN on Sat May 10, 2014 at 07:45:39 PM PDT

  •  Yeesh (6+ / 0-)
    When Blacks use that word they are practicing a social mechanism for protecting their group.
    black people would use that word in their group so that they would learn not respond to that word automatically.
    I hope your group learns, very soon, that it should stop automatically using ignorant words.

    I'm sure your group can learn. Or so I hope.

    "Trust me... I've been right before." ~ Tea party patriot

    by Calvino Partigiani on Sat May 10, 2014 at 07:59:24 PM PDT

  •  This is a bullshit diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, blackhand
    As a protective mechanism, black people would use that word in their group so that they would learn not respond to that word automatically.
    Fuck off.

    "Trust me... I've been right before." ~ Tea party patriot

    by Calvino Partigiani on Sat May 10, 2014 at 08:05:53 PM PDT

  •  Why even raise the question? (0+ / 0-)

    Fuck off.

    "Trust me... I've been right before." ~ Tea party patriot

    by Calvino Partigiani on Sat May 10, 2014 at 08:17:53 PM PDT

  •  I was raised to never say it. (6+ / 0-)

    Got my ass beat more than once when I was a kid for saying it in the house.  My Mom's opinion is that Black people who say it are actually worse than White people because:

    1) They make us look stupid.
    2) They know better.

    And I agree.

  •  I used it yesterday... (4+ / 0-)

    ...but was quoting a Bayard Rustin speech title.  Presumably that would be appropriate.

  •  such a simple rule (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Negative slurs and jokes with stereotypes in them about a group of people-religion, race, nationality, gender etc- belong to that group of people to use as they wish. That's how I think about it. It's their's to use.

    You said that "many White people" are confused why Blacks can use the N word. Maybe you could comment on your experience if it is randomly distributed across all White people because I mostly see it in one  'kind" of white person. I suspect that it is often people who don't belong to any minority or relatively disempowered group of any kind who have this problem/blindness.  Maybe you hear it more so have a bigger sample size than I do, though. Regardless I think it must be infuriating when they do this. It infuriates me and I'm not Black.

    To many of the rest of us, it is easy to understand that if a Jew tells a Jewish joke it's fine or does not hurt Jews in the same way as if a non-Jew says it. It is very often acceptable for any minority group to tell jokes or use slurs among themselves that would be hurtful and unacceptable if used by outsiders. My Lesbian and Gay neighbors can tease about other Gay people in ways that are unacceptable for straight people to repeat. Sometimes my neighbor next door says outrageous things to shock but I think also to diffuse those words. If a straight guy said them probably it'd feel like an assault.

    I'm always astounded when someone argues that if Blacks are going to say the N-word than other people should be able to as well. In my own life, the only people I've seen do this are some of those who have no experience in being part of a minority group within a larger culture. They have been almost exclusively white straight people usually men who aren't a member of some religious minority, Oftentimes they argue with a  vehemence and passion that I don't comprehend.

  •  Oh Please (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calvino Partigiani, Rashaverak

    No.  Either the use of the word is acceptable or it is not.

    The bullshit excuse that it is OK amongst blacks but an invective otherwise is just that: a bullshit excuse.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Sun May 11, 2014 at 04:58:06 AM PDT

    •  Maybe most black people don't like hearing it? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The only reason I tolerate hearing the word come from another black person is because I know they aren't using the word with true hate.  That doesn't mean I like hearing it.  If a white person uses it, I'm not sure if they are just trying to talk cool, or if they really mean it.

      Imagine that you are walking down the street, and someone comes up behind you and starts calling you every name in the book.  If you turn around and don't know that person, it may be time to tussle.  If you turn around and it's your best friend, then you'll probably laugh and throw a few insults back.  You let your friend get away with it because you know they don't truly mean those awful things.  It's kind of like that for a black person when they hear another black person use the "N" word.

      •  I understand what you're saying (0+ / 0-)

        Statements amongst and between friends can be completely misconstrued by outsiders who are not privy to the understanding.

        That, however, isn't what is really at issue here which is the idea that an offensive word is acceptable when used within a community but not by outsiders.  The issue isn't the interpersonal, private, usage of the word but the public usage.  Look at the pop culture, specially, the rap music culture.  Certainly the use of offensive words is not being used in a private sense but is being glorified as an object of offense.

        "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

        by blackhand on Mon May 12, 2014 at 06:01:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why? (5+ / 0-)

    I cannot remember a single instance when I used the word, outside of American Lit seminars in college and grad school, when we were directly quoting slave narratives and 19th century novels like Uncle Tom's Cabin and Huckleberry Finn. Even then, one might be surprised by how rarely it appeared, even in quotations from literature.

    So my question is: Why would anyone consider it important that they be "allowed" to use this word? What special meaning does the word carry (beside the obvious) that they are unable to convey through any other word in the English language? Why would anyone want to use it?

    "Seeing Leela fly off the Hexadecapus and crash through the moon dome and survive inside a stuffed animal by breathing a balloon was a dose of reality." Farewell, Futurama--I will avenge you!

    by IamGumby on Sun May 11, 2014 at 06:06:45 AM PDT

  •  If you work for the BBC & make them lots of money (0+ / 0-)

    you can utter the n word with no consequences, even if you have a history of similar vile comments.

  •  Cezanne, Desensitization modalities R certainly... (0+ / 0-)

    ... valid psychological techniques.

    It would certainly B helpful to kno however, is what you say based on
    legitimate study or is it opinion?

  •  Is there some reason that you just have to use (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi, Rashaverak, novapsyche

    the word?  Have you run into times and places when there just simply weren't any other words to say what you want?  Because, if that isn't the case then this is a totally unnecessary diary and a totally unnecessary thought experiment.  There are so many other important topics related to race and the interaction of people about race.  Why you choose to focus on one word that you know is offensive is troubling.

    "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

    by stellaluna on Sun May 11, 2014 at 08:11:00 AM PDT

  •  I will be interested to see how Larry Wilmore (0+ / 0-)

    addresses this in his upcoming show The Minority Report. Here is a classic bit from The Daily Show that I can't embed.

    Jon Stewart And Larry Wilmore Bravely Reclaim Huck Finn And The ‘N-Word’ For Comedy Gold

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Sun May 11, 2014 at 10:10:16 AM PDT

  •  No. Just no. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Just last week I had a friend, who comes from a Jewish background, tell me with all sincerity that "now it's okay" to use that slur.  Another friend at the table agreed & pointed to the efforts of comedians like Richard Pryor to that end.

    I had to firmly & flatly tell them they were wrong.  The word cannot be decoupled from its historical moorings.  There is no "reclaiming" possible.

    The only time the use of the word is permissible is when discussing it in its historical context (or some literature or event during the relevant era).  Even then, exposure to the word makes me cringe.

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