I remember every… single… time… someone called me a nigger. The neighbor across the street. The girl from my Girl Scouts troop. My roommate’s friend on my first day of college, not even two hours on the campus. The guy at the CVS. And the one at the Home Depot parking lot. And that fool who cussed me in Spanish because I almost hit his car trying to avoid a stalled car in my lane. The last one was just as shocking as the first one, and all of the others in between; one can never be fully prepared for that kind of abuse. My hurt felt all-the-more acute, I think, because my parents never talked to me about what the N word means—its history, its impact, how to get over the hurt, how to respond to the hate. I can’t blame them; what parent wants to tell her kid our world is full of ignoramuses who will call you awful names simply because your skin is brown?
I’ve had those hard conversations, though—been talking to my girlpies about that ugly word for quite some time. I know that they can never be truly ready to have it lobbed their way, but they know why someone would say it and why they should get pissed about it. They also know they have my full on permission to go ham on the person who says it.
Wait, what? Yes, I said that. *in my Tamar voice* My daughters have permission to put the paws on whoever dares call them that word. Because please know, I’m much more from the school of Malcolm than I am from the school of Martin: I firmly believe that we have the right to defend ourselves from fools who would dare heap mental, emotional or physical abuse on our persons. Word to Paula Deen.
I know, though, that not everyone feels the same—that there are parents who are teaching their children different when it comes to how they should deal with the hurt and pain that comes from racism. So tell me: what are you telling your kids about the “N” word, and how are you counseling them to respond to it?
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.