Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Black America, Racism

More Name-calling

The public use of derogatory slurs is a hot topic these days, with famous utterances from Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Paris Hilton, and Isaiah Washington. Remember “macaca”? Last week the NAACP buried the word “nigger”.


Today in the news a prominent member of the board and benefactor to Roger Williams University admitted to calling a Black board candidate a “nigger’ during a meeting to discuss diversifying the college’s board. His colleagues were outraged and he has now retired to spend more time with his family. He claims to have only recently heard of the word “nigger” from listening to rap music and said the word just “kind of slipped out”. He’s an eighty year-old white man.

Two weeks ago I wrote a piece about how I was called a “dyke-bitch” at work, but what I didn’t write about was being called a “nigger” walking down the street in the Russian enclave of Brighton Beach. Three days ago these two guys got into a fist fight on my block on the Puerto Rican guy called the Black guy a “nigger”.

What to do about all this name-calling? I think it would take up too much space on this blog and in my life to chronicle every time a famous person or an elected official or just a regular person called someone an offensive name, but I feel strangely compelled to do so. I feel like I need to put up some sort of blog memorial of insensitive/offensive/oppressive slurs noting the time, date, and circumstances of the verbal event.

On March 23, 2007, so-and-so called so-and-so a _______________ (insert derogatory term).

Maybe it will help people heal if there was a site where folks could send in their offensive event with all the details. Then other people could read it and realize that name-calling hurts and we should avoid it just because it would be the better way to live. We could call it the “Nigger Memorial Site” or something like that.


  1. Sewere

    Hi Kym,

    I just caught a slight error in your post that I thought you should know. He didn’t call a board member a nigger, he used the word while the board was discussing the difficulties of recruiting a black and/or minority board member.

    From the CNN article,

    He had been discussing the difficulty of finding blacks and other minorities to serve on the 16-member board, which at the time included 14 white men and two women.

    Barbara Roberts, then a board member, said Papitto became irate when he discussed pressures to make the board more diverse, at one point using the slur to refer to black candidates to the board.

  2. Got it. Thanks.

  3. Sewere

    I should have added that Papitto’s “slip” still made it quite clear what he thought (and probably still thinks) of black folks. Little wonder why it’s hard to recruit minority candidates for the board?

    We could call it the “Nigger Memorial Site” or something like that.

    Juxtaposed with the picture of the NAACP burial of the “N-word”

    As infuriating and emotionally exhausting as it is to keep hearing about these incidents, you guys are doing a fantastic job of keeping us all from forgetting that this shit still goes on. And I’ll keep typing/saying this as long as I can, Thank you for all your hard work.