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?"
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.