Samuel L. Jackson has built a career on being a foul-mouthed badass and he has no intention of stopping. Case in point: his latest role as John Shaft II, who’s a complicated man or an action hero, depending on who you ask.
But one thing about Shaft II is that he’s very Samuel L. Jackson, which means he uses “motherf-cker” like a comma. Another word that Jackson uses freely in many of his roles is the N-word.
The word holds so much weight for Black people throughout the Diaspora and many, including rapper Jay-Z, feel like we’ve taken it back by using it as a term of endearment.
ESSENCE recently sat down with the stars of Shaft, Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher and Richard Roundtree, to discuss the use of the N-word in film and how they feel about it as Black men.
“It’s been a part of my life since I was a kid,” Jackson said while sitting inside Harlem’s Red Rooster.
He continued, “I understand how people are offended by it. I understand what it means to specific people. I understand how people take offense. I understand how some people like me, don’t.”
But the legend that is Richard Roundtree and the original Shaft doesn’t feel the same way. In fact, he shared that Malcolm Jamal Warner once told him that the word was likely the last thing many Black people heard before they were lynched.
Watch the video for a surprise and hilarious ending to this conversation about using the N-word.