A friend of mine took his two young sons to the park last week. They climbed trees, played on the playground, ran in the grass. In general they just had a good day. While they were there my friend sat down on a bench next to another couple who had their kids at the park as well. The couple were a little younger than my friend and were “African-American” (I put that in quotes because to me, if you’re from here, you’re American, not some other hyphenated group, but that’s not the point of my rant here so I’ll let that go). Their ethnicity is only important in the context of this story.
Now this couple was very fond of dropping the “N” word. You know the word that heaps more hate on people who say it than just about any other word. My initial thought is, “Hey if they want to say it and aren’t offended when they do, go for it.” I mean, I recognize how I or my friend saying it could be controversial but not them, right?
Well the more I thought about it the less that works out. Here’s why. My friend’s two boys are running around by these folks. What do kids do with words they hear? They repeat them. What would have happened had these two boys, who up until that point had never heard that word, had said it within ear shot of this couple. I imagine the sight of a blonde haired, blue eyed little boy yelling the N-word would have incensed this couple quite a bit. Implications would have been made that my friend was obviously racist. After all, his kids learned it somewhere, the idea that they were the cause never occurring to them. Of course I’m assuming their reaction for the purpose of this post. They may have realized where they heard it and adjusted their speech or they may not have cared. I’m going for the worst case here.
So here’s the real point. If you want people to not use a word like the “N” word you have to stop using it. I don’t care what the circumstances of it are. If I don’t want my kids saying the “F” word I can’t use it around them. Kids don’t understand where words come from and why some are bad and some are not. Just use common sense. If you think other people should behave in a particular way (like not using the “N” word) then you should behave in that way as well.