02 October 2008

The N Word

You know the word.

That ugly word.

Wouldn't it be nice if "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me" were actually true? But, we all know that words can make the deepest of cuts that can take years to heal.

Hearing racial epithets of any kind has always made me wince, made me recoil, made me have a hard time feeling any kind of compassion on the speaker of the offending slur. Michael and I have known a few people over the years who don't think using such terms is a big deal; they actually find it funny or somehow clever. But, it is a very big deal. Not funny.

My oh my, how much that has increased since my precious daughter, Ray Ray, entered my life and heart. When celebrity rappers or college athletes or teenagers hanging out at the movies use that word, I want to grab them by the ears and drag them to a restroom to wash their filthy mouths out! I feel that word slicing into my stomach for days afterwards.

WHEN did using that particular word become OK? And, WHY on earth is it considered cool?


It's one thing when it's done by a stranger or someone you expect ugly things from, but recently that word was used by a person I know... and love...

Honestly, my first response was not very Christ-like. Change my heart, o God!

I did refrain from sending an email with Ray Ray's beautiful photo that said "Is she a n*****"? But only barely.

I can imagine some of your comments here: This isn't the last time we'll hear the word so you have to learn to let it roll off your back. (You're right.) We can't always protect our kids from racism. (Right again.) Part of being an interracial family means having the opportunity to graciously educate those who are impolitic and in the process we give our children a valuable life tool. (Totally agree.) What would Jesus do? (Yes, I want to live that way.) Enduring sweetly through unkindness is a mark of maturity. (Enough already! I get it that I'm in the wrong here!)

So what do I want to teach my kids? After giving it some time, praying, and getting some Godly counsel we've made a decision about how we'll respond that I pray will be positive and uplifting and that I trust will bring healing to that friendship.

But, it still smarts. "Sticks and stones" my foot!

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity."
Colossians 3:12-14

29 comments:

Jesi and Joe said...

Youch. So sorry you've had to be faced with this by a friend... all your points are correct, but STILL. That DOES hurt.

I hope you're able to remedy the situation with your friend and find peace in your response.

Good luck!

emily said...

Tell me who it is and I will kick them in the knees........oh, Christ-like behavior-- ok. ugg. hate the reality of living in a fallen world.

You will handle it with grace and love- I'm sure. :)

jody said...

Oh man, I think Jesus might have punched them out. Ok, so maybe that is why I would do-oops, sorry for the mix up :). But you know, while all those things you said are true, but it is also ok to say "no way jose!!" to people who say that and that is also your job as your child's advocate so it may be good to call them on it. I just cannot imagine why anyone in their right mind would possibly find it ok to use that word anyway-it is simply ridiculous!!!!!

Hauswife said...

Oh, Jody, you better BELIEVE we're going to call that person on it!

Brian and Autumn said...

Laurie I am so sorry. This is really a situation that I understand will be more of an issue for us in the near future but that knowledge doesn't take away the sting, does it? You know - there were times when "Christ-like" behavior meant "righteous indignation"... What I mean is you have every right to be upset and just because your first response was indignation does not mean you were necessarily not being a Godly woman. I will be praying that the "confrontation" will go smooth, that you will be gracious and the relationship will be restored.
Autumn

Brianna Heldt said...

Ugh. Yuck. What IIIIIII don't understand is...how on EARTH are people still using this word?! We are coming up on the year 2009. And STILL some people haven't gotten the memo (or decided to ignore it?)!!!

What an amazing heart you have. I hope everything goes well.

Mona said...

When I read the title of your latest blog, I thought your precious baby had learned the word "no" (you know, the "n" word). Some fellow humans are just insensitive - it's up to us to set an example that will possibly change them. If that entails kicking them in the knees, so be it! All kidding aside, your family is in my prayers. Let me know how you resolve it. I'm waiting for a referral for my Precious Little Ethiopian Princess and am anticipating the comments I'm going to get from my community that has a very low African American population (less than 1%).

Mona

ErinOrtlund said...

I don't see anything unChristlike about saying something like, "You know, you probably don't realize what a hurtful word that is--could you be more careful in the future?" Hope the conversation goes well!

H. Lewis Smith said...

More about the n-word:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP2U0jmZjec

HeidiD in CT said...

We had a very close family member use it the same day and after we announced our decision to adopt from Ethiopia. It was used to describe a hat. We were so flabbergasted. We were so early in the process and not educated enough yet to know what to do. I pray I never hear it again from a loved one, but will follow your guidance if I do. The word makes me want to vomit. Maybe on them? So sorry that it happened, but hopefully we will be able to educate enough so that Sophie, Ray Ray and all of our other kids won't have to hear it in there lives. Wishful thinking perhaps, but we can always hope!

Melissa said...

Oh, girl, you know we deal with this one. It is used completely without consideration of where the term came from or the depths the generations before us suffered to abolish a description like this one. It's as common as saying "that dude" and makes my skin crawl.
Praying for boldness and wisdom for you as you deal with this.

Michael and Michelle said...

I hate that word!

Michelle

Kristi J said...

living in the south where racism is still alive (but hopefully dying)...I've heard comments over the years and I always, very calmly, let those people know how I feel about the matter...It is ignorance!! I'm sure I might put a Hurtin on someone once Lucy is in my arms (: You handled it better than most...way to go, kj

be_a_Mary said...

why ... im gonna ... i otta beat the POOP out of that stinker!! Little Ray Ray is the CUTEST CUTEST CUTEST little nugget, I could EAT her she is sooo cute, and I just do NOT get how one can SPEAK that word out loud in reference to a BEAUTIFUL child (let alone anyone!). It HURTS me, it HURTS soooo many people, it HURTS my Daniel when others use that word. It makes me MAD. arggggg.

Amy said...

ugh. I have dealt with a little teeny bit of this with... ahem, family. YIKES! Not fun. I probably didn't handle it so grace filled and forgiving... I might have Yelled in the moment, jumped all over the person, and made them feel like an idiot.

Whoops! I will hopefully handle it a little more loving if ever there is a next time.

Sam said...

what a good person you are!

JourneytoFamily said...

Oh, it's so painful when someone you know and love does/says something racist. I ended up having to cut off a friendship with a good friend because she was so ignorant, that she was surprised I was upset with things she said. She couldn't get it, so I had to stop hanging out with her.

And whoever came up with the "sticks and stones" saying was an idiot. Cause it's just not true.

Lisa said...

That poor ignorant soul who will probably never get to experience the depth of compassion, love, and joy that you have in your life. I do feel your frustration and pain...sorry.

The Six of Us said...

So sorry! The racial tendencies alive in our culture are on my daily prayers. I will add this when I pray.

FHL said...

Laurie, I'm am so right there with you on the pit in the stomach. I don't have a beautiful princess born in Africa, but racial terms have always made me sick (and angry...).

I will pray for you for gentle words of wisdom for this family...and for healing in the relationship. Sending a hug my friend!

Oatsvall Team said...

i am sure it is a struggle ... i am not sure i could be very christian like in the moment ... i know we have to expect evil, stupidity, and unkindness in this world, but I am all for a good education when it happens ... PERHAPS A GOOD KICK IN THE PANTS COULD HELP THIS PERSON NEXT TIME THEY OPEN THEIR MOUTHS AND USE SUCH A WORD ...

love your blog and your heart ... will be checking in more often ...

Rebecca said...

I love your honesty with this post. It is hard. We've already heard it and it breaks my heart. I need to be praying now for my reaction when people use this ignorant statement!

Renee said...

Laurie- I hear you on this and it makes me emotional just thinking about that word being used. A friend of ours used the word once in front of me before the kids came home and luckily I just finished reading all my race and culture books so I was able to respond in what I thought was an appropriate manner. I was very hurt though and upset. I was also hurt that some other friends laughed at his remark as well. I will say that it took alot of restraint but maintaining my composure and responding in a very direct way worked well and we have not heard the word since and he apologized numerous times. Just food for thought, because it really goes against what my natural response would have been.

Erica said...

Ugh. Grace. Please sweet Jesus grace. Its so hard for me to see it like that and not want to completely come UNDONE! We've experienced it and I was Christ-like on the outside but I know my Jesus saw my ugly heart on the inside. I'm praying with you, for you, and for this friend.

This is something we're having to educate someone very close to us in. Someone who shares my blood. And it is, simply put, ignorance. It's painful yet its a process I know God will see through to completion. To His honor and glory.

Praying for you my friend.

Tymm said...

oh man... this one is tough for me - thank God I haven't been faced with it - yet...

I am not sure how I would react - I pray it would be in a manner I would want my child to emulate - but can't promise it would be...

geesh - so sorry you had to be on the receiving end of this...

darci said...

I have never agreed with that whole 'sticks and stones' kaplooey. words DO hurt, badly, I think sometimes more than a good old fistfight. :) We're not 'there' yet, but I've already been wondering about how to deal with the idiots I know will be 'out there'..you're so right,,to respond in grace and love, and yet that mama bear heart rears up and ROARS...how very difficult to face this, too, not with a stranger, but with a 'friend/family member'.

darci said...

oh and ps..just something I've been thinking on since I read it a few weeks back. That when we have our kiddos home, our whole family will be a minority> (not just our precious two little ones). I LOVE that..that our whole family will be in solidarity..not that that helps in this situation..

DrewCareyShow said...

You are gracious and a better woman than I am. Hope to see you guys soon!

~Laura~ said...

I'm sure you handled it with alot more grace than I would have. I would have punched them. :( I'm sorry you had to deal with such ignorance.