Here's something I figured out a few years ago when I had a disagreement with a black teen girl who lived next door to me regarding her friends she let park in my handicapped spot. I was the "minority" there. I think there were something like four white people in a 4-6 block radius.

I was speaking about it to a white male friend later, saying I wanted to smooth that over. He said, "Did you call her the N-Word?"

Hunh?

Louder and more slowly: "Did you call her the N-Word?"

I said no. It didn't even occur to me to use that word. I was pissed off over the parking spot, but it was just your basic human anger exchange over someone taking your parking spot.

No name calling. I don't use name-calling of any kind in a verbal fight. Ever. Not that I've never done that, and I don't remember making a conscious decision about it. But those words just don't pop into my head any more. It never solves anything and always makes things worse.

I taught myself something with that. If those words aren't a normal part of your vocabulary, it doesn't even occur to you to use them. I certainly wouldn't use that word with a white person...it wouldn't pop into my conscious mind. Ever.

And I showed MYSELF that the word didn't pop into my consciousness with a black girl or any other black person.

If that isn't a normal part of your vocabulary, it will never pop up.

So, there are absolutely no excuses for such language. Period.

She did receive an apology. I shouldn't have spoken to her in anger. All I had to do was to calmly tell her I would appreciate it if she didn't let that happen again. I was pretty wound up coming home from grocery shopping & was tired and achy as I usually get in the pm with my fibromyalgia. She didn't deserve that. She was very sweet about it. Yes, the parking space thing shouldn't have happened. But she was a very shy girl and couldn't drum up the courage to tell them to move their car.

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.