“I don’t enjoy hearing it. But I don’t think that I feel more offended by it than you do. What I mean is, I don’t think I have a special place of pain inside of me that the word touches because I am black.” We are both human beings, I am trying to say. She nods her head, seemingly satisfied. Even inspired, I hope.
I am lying, of course.
In our culture, it seems, friendships are generally considered to be incidental—garnishes on the plate of important relationships, like those between family members and spouses. There are no institutions, no common rituals to support either the initiation or termination of bonds between friends. Because I take my friendships as seriously as I do my marriage… .I sigh when people ask me why Beverly and I are not friends anymore. I do this to spare myself and others the shameful truth, which is that Beverly dumped me.
Can a friendship really end for no reason?
Emily Bernard gets “Fired.”
Teaching the N-Word
He does not want to say it because he is white; he does not want to say it because I am black. I feel my power as his professor, the mentor he has so ardently adopted. I feel the power of Randall Kennedy’s book in my hands, its title crude and unambiguous. Say it, we both instruct this white student. And he does.
Emily Bernard, “Teaching the N-Word,” The American Scholar