The N-word is heavily used in some black cultures, and as some aspects, such as rap music become more and more mainstream, it’s a very valid question to ask; Why can’t I, as a white man, use the N-word, when black people use it all the time?
The short answer is, unsurprisingly, ‘No’.
Well, that was easy. Or was it? Is it really that simple? Aren’t there exceptions? And why we’re at it…why not?
Well, of course it’s never as simple as the short answers. There are exceptions. But the default answer stands. In almost all situations, it’s not acceptable to use the N-word at all.
Well, it’s simple really. It is a word that has a history that carry connotations of slavery, oppression and disrespect.
But if black people use it, isn’t that dual standards?
No. And there are several reasons for this. I will not list them all. Instead, I will focus on the most important one:
Not all black people use the term. While you may or may not offend those who use it themselves, you most definitely will offend those who don’t.
See, black people are not one homogenous group. They are individuals with very different backgrounds. They come from all classes of society and have different levels of education and sophistication. Just like any other group of people, they get offended by different things and for different reasons.
There is not one black culture any more than there is one white culture.
Simply using the argument that “they use it” is derogatory, disrespectful and perhaps even racist, because it implies that they are a homogenous group and not individuals.
So when is it ok?
Well, there are basically only two circumstances. If you are singing along to music by black musicians it would just be silly to insert beeps whenever there is the N-word.
It is also, of course, ok to quote others using the word, if it’s done in a respectful way.
Other than that, don’t use it. Unless you are Quentin fucking Tarantino. Then you are excempt from all rules regarding the N-word.