Dear "N" word,
I was taught at an early age by both my grandparents and my parents, who had both been discriminated against in some of the worst ways in their lifetimes, that we don't ever use you for any reason. We don't listen to music with you, we don't call our friends or family you, we don't allow others to call us by you. You were never spoken in my house or with my extended family or friends, so as an adult I find it applauling that people sometimes tell me or ask me pointedly, "why am I not allowed to say you, or use you, or rap you, if you can do it?"
I'm angered by that question because I don't use you and I don't tolerate the use of you in my world. Just because I'm this skin color doesn't mean I automatically approve or do things that some other black person does. There is no amount of "we're cool," that is going to get me to accept someone else calling me, you. N word, do you know how many of my people fought and rallied against you? They fought for the respect to be called man, woman, Mr. and Mrs., instead of you, or being called a boy or girl even though they were adults. Why, if I'm going to demand that others not use you, would I then go out and just spit you out of my mouth at every chance? Even worse, why would I ever want to be a part of so called "owning you," you who were used to keep us down, to make us feel like less than human beings, to dehumanize us, to rob us of our identities even more so than had already happened?
You're not okay. You've never been okay. You never will be okay. I'm a person. I'm not you. I don't want to be you and I don't want people to ever think it's okay to associate me with you or that I'm accepting of you in anyway. I want my children and their children to know they are better than what you mean. Black or being black should never equal you, and when you respect yourself, the struggle, and where you want to go in life, there is no room for you. I don't want to "own" you, I want to continue owning my own business, paying my own bills, taking care of my own children, and owning the respect I deserve from others for treating them the way I want to be treated.