If you’re black and angry at another black person on your job, please don’t shout the N-word – it could become illegal.
The N-word is used all over the country by black folks were who mad, loving or joking. But now, a New York federal jury court has weighed in to say use of the N-word in the workplace is offensive and discriminatory — even when an African American uses the N-word to another African American.
So when you go to work tomorrow, think about this: In the heat of an argument, if you call another African American the N-word, you could be sued and wind up in court.
Is it worth it? And shouldn’t black folks resist calling each other the N-word anyway?
A Manhattan panel rejected arguments from lawyers for a black Harlem employment-agency boss that it was right for him to use the hateful slur — and ordered him and his company to pay $280,000 to a black female worker who was subjected to his tirade.
Brandie Johnson, a black single mother, won her suit against STRIVE East Harlem President Rob Carmona, 61, for repeated verbal abuse — including a March 2012 rant she caught on tape.
“I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed,” Johnson, 38, testified about what her lawyer called a “four-minute n—-r tirade” over her on-the-job conduct and attire.
“Both of you are n—-rs . . . You all act like n—-rs all the time . . . and n—-rs let their feelings rule them,” Carmona said in an outburst that targeted Johnson and an unidentified worker.
Her lawyer, Marjorie M. Sharpe, told the jury — which consisted of eight whites, one black and one other dark-skinned man — that the pair’s race made no difference.
“When you use the word n—-r to an African American, no matter how many alternative definitions that you may try to substitute with the word n—-r, that is no different than calling a Hispanic by the worst possible word you can call a Hispanic, calling a homosexual male the worst possible word that you can call a homosexual male,” Sharpe said in her closing argument.
Clearly, the death of the N-word has been greatly exaggerated.
In 2009, thousands gathered in Detroit to participate in the NAACP’s funeral and burial for the “N” word. A horse drawn carriage carried a wooden coffin that adorned black roses and a ribbon with the word “nigga” displayed.
NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, hip-hop legend Curtis Blow and R & B legend Eddie Levert led the procession from COBO Hall to Hart (Freedom) Plaza. The burial was a part of the 9th Annual Convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Making sure that the crowd understood the significance of this event, Kilpatrick said “we should take the word out of our spirit. “Good riddance. Die, N-word,” said Kilpatrick. “We don’t want to see you around here no more.”
Meanwhile, the New York case against Carmona focused on what many see as a double standard over the N-word — that it’s racist if uttered by whites but culturally acceptable when used by blacks in music or when speaking to one another.
Johnson testified that being black made it no less painful to be subjected to Carmona’s vile taunts.
Carmona blubbered like a baby in Manhattan federal court yesterday as he tried to defend his use of the N-word during the punitive- damages phase of the case.
“I come from a different time . . . and this showed me that I really have to take stock of that at my age ,” he said, wiping his eyes.
Defense attorney Diane Krebs argued that Carmona, who had a troubled life before getting a master’s degree from Columbia and starting STRIVE, had a different take on the word.
Carmona testified that he might say, “This is my n—-r for 30 years” to a pal. “That means my boy, I love him, or whatever,” he said.
But Johnson, who was fired after filing the June 2012 lawsuit following more than two years with the firm, said, “No one deserves to be treated like that. I was bullied, disrespected.”
Have you called another black person on your job the N-word? Would you call another black person on your job the N-word? And if you did, should that be illegal? What do you think?