The ongoing debate over the use of the N-word took center stage on the “The View” back in October, when the hot topic of former Republican Presidential candidate Rick Perry’s hunting camp’s name came up.
The always-outspoken Sherri Shepherd ruffled more than a few feathers when she revealed that she believes it’s okay for African-Americans, not Whites, to use the controversial term.
While Shepherd certainly isn’t the first to use the insider argument to validate the use of the N-word, the TV host was the recipient of a fiery backlash from African-Americans who reject the word entirely.
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ESSENCE.com caught up with Shepherd — who stars in “One for the Money” (out January 27) — and asked her to elaborate on her statement and explain why she’s comfortable using the word:
“That word brings up so many issues with everybody. I have Black friends who hate the word and don’t want it used. I respect those friends, and I don’t use the word around them. However, this is a word that was in my family. When my uncle played dominos and spades, I heard it used in the utmost of affection. My mother used this word with my father, and my cousin used to say it at our family reunions. I also heard it when I moved to the suburbs in Chicago, and it was used very negatively towards me by White people. To hear a White person say it just brings back those negative feelings.
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“On the other hand, it was used in a positive way at home when I was growing up. How can it be positive? The power was taken out of the word, and I know where it comes from. I respect Richard Pryor for deciding not to use it after he returned from his trip to Africa. For me, this word was just a fun word attached to some wonderful memories of people in my family. It was very hard for me to articulate just what I hear when different people use it. Then again, I probably need to take a closer look at it too. When I was younger, there was a clear line on who could use that word and who couldn’t. It’s gotten really blurred today with the young kids, Black and White, who buy the rap music.
“Do I use it around my son? No. He has no filter and everything mommy says he repeats. I personally don’t want him going to school and saying it. It is something I call Sal (husband Lamar Sally). That’s our word and I know he loves me with everything he’s got. I know that may make some people mad. Some lady tweeted me, ‘You sent Black people back 400 years.’ I tweeted her back, ‘If my saying I don’t have a problem using the word set us back 400 years, you got some deeper issues than that.’ I’m not taking that on me.”
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What do you think about Sherri Shepherd’s stance on the N-word?