Why Non-Black People Should Never Say The N-Word

Why Non-Black People Should Never Say The N-Word

And yes, that includes non-black people of color.

To some people, words are powerless and can be thrown around without any sort of ramifications. To others, words define their very being and play a significant role in how society treats them. The divide between these opposing sides grows even deeper when the type of words being discussed are slurs.

The slur that has currently been eliciting a wide number of responses is the N-word. Rooted in racism, but being reclaimed by the black community, the word has caused confusion. In order to understand why everyone does not agree on whether the N-word should be said by non-black people, the concept of privilege and reclamation must be addressed.

Being aware of one’s privilege can cause some people to get defensive because they may not be actively trying to prosper off of a marginalized group. In regards to racism, whether they intend to or not, non-black people continue to benefit from it. Privilege is what protects non-black people from facing the same injustices that black people do, such as police brutality and wrongful convictions. It is their privilege that allows the N-word to be used as a weapon against black people but used as a casual term towards other non-black people.

However, there are some people that agree that white people should not be allowed to say the N-word, but are fine with other non-black people saying the N-word. Since white people have the greatest amount of privilege in our society, many other minorities believe that they are allowed to say the N-word because they also face injustices. This is a dangerous thought because the word is used specifically against black people to further the cycle of their oppression. Even if the person saying the N-word is a minority, the N-word itself was not created to oppress them, and thus they cannot fully understand the effect that the word has on the black community.

Black people have attempted to reclaim the N-word by using it in their own community, but this has led to some non-black people believing that since black people call each other the N-word, non-black people should be able to call anyone the N-word too. The issue with that thought process is that the entire purpose of black people reclaiming the N-word is so that they can take the power of the word away from their oppressors. Non-black people cannot use the reclamation of the N-word as an excuse for them to say the word because they are the ones that black people are trying to prevent from saying the N-word by reclaiming it.

The argument has been made that allowing only black people to say the N-word is counter-productive because if black people really wanted the N-word to no longer be used against them, they would stop using it as well. Pretending that the N-word never existed does not solve the racism that caused the N-word to exist in the first place. The origin of the word will always stem from racism, but by reclaiming the word, black people can empower themselves in a society that still attempts to discriminate against them.

However, only acknowledging that it is racist for a non-black person to say the N-word is not enough. Non-black people must speak up when they witness another non-black person using the N-word because if they do not, their silence is taken as approval. The responsibility is not put solely on black people to speak out against it, but also for non-black people to use their position of privilege to tell as many non-black people as possible that they should not use the N-word.

Unfortunately, the words of a non-black person carry more weight in society than those of a black person, so it is vital for non-black people to educate their communities about how black people are impacted by their use of the N-word. It is also important for non-black people to uplift black voices that are speaking on the issue, and to always be ready to listen to their opinions on the topic since it personally affects them.

Cover Image Credit: Elephant Journal

Popular Right Now

37 Things Growing Up in the South Taught You

Where the tea is sweet, but the people are sweeter.

1. The art of small talking.
2. The importance of calling your momma.
3. The beauty of sweet tea.
4. How to use the term “ma'am” or “sir” (that is, use it as much as possible).
5. Real flowers are way better than fake flowers.
6. Sometimes you only have two seasons instead of four.
7. Fried chicken is the best kind of chicken.
8. When it comes to food, always go for seconds.
9. It is better to overdress for Church than underdress.
10. Word travels fast.
11. Lake days are better than beach days.
12. Handwritten letters never go out of style.
13. If a man doesn’t open the door for you on the first date, dump him.
14. If a man won’t meet your family after four dates, dump him.
15. If your family doesn’t like your boyfriend, dump him.
16. Your occupation doesn’t matter as long as you're happy.
17. But you should always make sure you can support your family.
18. Rocking chairs are by far the best kind of chairs.
19. Cracker Barrel is more than a restaurant, it's a lifestyle.
20. Just 'cause you are from Florida and it is in the south does not make you Southern.
21. High School football is a big deal.
22. If you have a hair dresser for more than three years, never change. Trust her and only her.
23. The kids in your Sunday school class in third grade are also in your graduating class.
24. Makeup doesn’t work in the summer.
25. Laying out is a hobby.
26. Moms get more into high school drama than high schoolers.
27. Sororities are a family affair.
28. You never know how many adults you know 'til its time to get recommendation letters for rush.
29. SEC is the best, no question.
30. You can't go wrong buying a girl Kendra Scotts.
31. People will refer to you by your last name.
32. Biscuits and gravy are bae.
33. Sadie Robertson is a role model.
34. If it is game day you should be dressed nice.
35. If you pass by a child's lemonade stand you better buy lemonade from her. You're supporting capitalism.
36. You are never too old to go home for just a weekend… or just a meal.
37. You can’t imagine living anywhere but the South.

Cover Image Credit: Grace Valentine

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

4 Tips For Introverted Millennials On Networking with smaller social circles

Shy and anti-social people need jobs, too.


Keeping a small social circle is something that I've taken pride in nearly all of my life. But a few years ago, I realized that having a large social circle is essential for networking and job opportunities.

Initially, I was disturbed by this. Making shallow friendships for gained opportunities? It gave me an ill feeling in the pit of my stomach. This is coming from someone that enjoys genuine friendships.

Back then, I just kept thinking about how I would not want someone using me because of who I know or my position in a job or society in general.

As I'm making my way out of the collegiate sphere and into the real world, I'm realizing that these shallow connections and short bonds are the secrets to success for a lot of people in many industries.

As the saying goes, "It's not who you know but what you know."

So, for us introverted people who may be absolutely BAD at small talk, bad at using social media or dislike social interactions in general, we're maybe screwing ourselves out of opportunities.

Here are a few tips to use your natural behaviors in conversation as a skill for networking without feeling you're living a lie.

1. Be A Listener


Prevent excessive energy drainage from your social interaction.

You may not be a talker to begin with. This is great because most people like to talk about themselves. Just be a listening ear for them, and they may take you.

2. Use Your Observational Skills


If you notice something that they don't, don't be afraid to speak up. This will come in handy when you have to work in or with large groups of people.

3. Independent Thinking/Working Can Get You Ahead


Outside of a working atmosphere, you may not see the opportunity to share your unique ideas. However, in a social setting, don't be afraid to share your thoughts--briefly, if need be.

4. Your Closest Friends May Be Your Biggest Resources


If you're like me, you attract extroverted people. (I'm not sure why I do, but the relationships end up balanced). Use them as a connection. Their social circle is most likely a lot larger than yours.

If you are truly friends, ask them for a favor to further your career. They won't feel used because your relationship is genuine. If most of your friends are introverted as well, they may still be able to connect you to the others that they are close to.

Of course, getting out of your comfort zone is beneficial as well. But, not everyone is capable of that without feeling embarrassed or making others feel uncomfortable.

Practice makes perfect, so don't be afraid to get out there and make sure you get the same benefits as everyone else.

Cover Image Credit:


Related Content

Facebook Comments