Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Black Journalist Confesses: “I’ve used the n-word.”

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Sunday, June 30, 2013

This Op-Ed speaks volumes.

Read on.

Confession of a black journalist: Like Paula Deen, I’ve used the n-word (Opinion from Anthony Cook)

Anthony Cook, Huntsville Times Community News Director

Anthony Cook, Huntsville Times Community News Director

By Anthony Cook | ACook@al.com
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on June 25, 2013 at 8:18 AM, updated June 25, 2013 at 12:57 PM

When I first heard about the dust-up over food mogul Paula Deen saying the n-word, my first reaction was “Um … OK.”I considered it just that – a dust-up. Big deal.But when it was reported that her extremely popular cooking show was being dropped from the Food Network, my thoughts changed to: “This is a big deal.”I’m guilty of spending the occasional Saturday morning in front of the tube with my wife, watching Paula whip up some Southern comfort food.When I heard she’d used the n-word at some point in her life, I wondered how I’d view her the next time she was on TV, concocting something you could almost taste through the screen and telling us “This is so good, y’all.”

But, apparently that’s not gonna happen. Not only has Food Network dropped her show, but Smithfield Foods has dropped her as a spokeswoman, and QVC and Walmart are considering doing the same.

This writing isn’t a defense of Paula Deen. She’s a big girl. She can take care of herself. And those businesses that are dropping association with her are just that – businesses. They have to consider the bottom line, which can be greatly affected by blows to their image. They essentially have been left with no choice.

I began to see the hypocrisy of expecting white people to adhere to a standard that I was not upholding myself.

As a black man, this writing is my attempt to point out the fake outrage and the hypocrisy of those of us who claim we are somehow damaged by this particular person, Paula Deen, admitting that she used the n-word years ago. If the word is offensive and harmful, why are we not offended and harmed when African-American rappers and comedians use it? Why are we not offended and harmed when neighbors and relatives use it? Why do we not consider that we offend and harm others when we use it?

Full disclosure … I’ve used the n-word. As a teenager, a college student and as a young adult, I used it prolifically, loosely, and largely indiscriminately.

But, as I became more mature, more professional, more serious about my faith in Christ, I removed that word (and many others) from my vocabulary. I was motivated partly by self-respect. I wanted to be viewed by others as respectful and professional without duplicity.

I also began to see the hypocrisy of expecting white people to adhere to a standard that I was not upholding myself. Using it culturally is no excuse. That’s the same reason Paula Deen used it – because it was culturally accepted at the time among her family and colleagues.

I’ve heard the arguments that black people are excused because we took something ugly and made it beautiful.

Newsflash: The n-word is still ugly.

We don’t know what people do or say behind closed doors, unless they admit to it like Paula Deen, so we don’t know how often that word is uttered every day across this country. But what’s sad is that public use of the n-word likely would have all but disappeared by now if it were not for black entertainers.

I’m not easily offended, but I do realize the historical weight, significance, pain and offensiveness of the n-word. These days, I have the opportunity to speak to young, impressionable black teens. I want them to see that they are not the n-word, that they owe themselves more than calling each other a slur that was used to demean and oppress our ancestors.

I owe my ancestors the dignity of not trying to embrace the things they died trying to overcome. It doesn’t move the needle to fake outrage over learning that white people said that word decades ago if I toss it around without a second thought.

The greatest stand that I, as a black man, can ever make against the n-word is not to use it myself.

Reach Huntsville Times Community News Director Anthony Cook at 256-532-4340.


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