The use of the N-word amongst blacks has now been debated in the courtroom, and a federal judge has declared that regardless of who is using it, it is still discriminatory in the workplace.
Last week, a jury awarded Brandi Johnson, a black employment agency worker, $250,000 in damages after her black boss directed an N-word laden rant towards her while at work. The legal battle is not over, however, as the two will head back to a Manhattan court to make a decision about punitive damages.
Rob Carmona, founder of Harlem employment agency STRIVE, defended his use of the N-word, stating that it has “multiple contexts” in black communities, and that his use of it towards Johnson, his employee, was to convey love, not hate.
Still, according to Johnson’s testimony, she was deeply offended by his use of the word, and now that this case has been brought to a courtroom, a debate has sparked all over as to whether or not it is acceptable for black people to use the word with other black people.
Just this summer, white TV chef and author Paula Deen came under fire for her alleged use of the N-word and was consequently fired from her 12-year-run at the Food Network. Many were outraged that she had ever used the word before, despite her acknowledging that it was never in a discriminatory manner, and it opened up a national conversation as to whether or not anyone should be able to use that word.
Many blacks are divided about the use of the word by anyone, black or white. In 2007, the civil rights organization NAACP held a funeral where they symbolically buried the N-word, making the statement that the use by anybody is unacceptable. Top civil rights leaders and celebrities who challenged the nation to stop the use of this word attended the event.
Still, six years later, this issue is still being debated, and since the case of Johnson vs. Carmona has been brought to trial in New York, many are left to wonder what kind of change, if any, it will initiate.