On Using The N-Word in Your Post Title: A Cautionary Tale

December 14, 2013 — 85 Comments

Is it possible to fall in love at 8 years old? I did. I can’t say his name, because he went on to become well known in the Manhattan music scene. Part of me itches to write it; and accidentally reach him, this man I’m still a little in love with.

He lived upstairs from me. We became “boyfriend-girlfriend” 3 year later, in middle school. I was 11, he was 12. My first kiss. His mouth tasted like warm honey.

People say love is blind. Which includes color blind. He was black, I was white. We didn’t say “African-American” back then. I didn’t see his color. Or rather, my love for him transcended it.

I was 11 the first time someone hurled this vituperation at me: “N-word Lover.” I was confused. Yes, I loved him. What did that even mean?

He was an incredibly talented drummer. He lived for music, and for me.

When we were in 8th grade, boys from another neighborhood chased him into a deserted area.

Hunted him, like an animal.

And broke his arm.

It healed. I did not.

By high school, we were apart, and I knew the agony of first love ended. Off he went to Music and Art, as New Yorkers call it. High School of Performing Arts, the school the movie “Fame” is set in.

We’d broken up before that. Our families stepped in and demanded we split right after he’d been attacked.  These words awaken a memory that pierces me afresh. Details have been imprinted permanently; then veiled. Now the veil is lifted.

I had that revilement hurled at me many times over the decades that followed. Anytime I dated a man of color, I was abused by both races. White people felt I was somehow betraying my race. African-American or Hispanic people felt I was “stealing” from them, dating men I had no business dating.

It’s No Man’s land.

In the end, I was a coward. I married a white Jewish man I shouldn’t have crossed the street with. Because he was one of my own “kind.” I’m not saying I didn’t love him – I did. Deeply. But by the time I met him, I only dated Caucasian men. I’d had enough.

I live in an area where there are almost no Jewish people. I didn’t know that when I bought my house. Even if I had- it wouldn’t have mattered. I just don’t think about those things.

But now I have a child. And I have to think about those things. He is always the only Jewish kid in his class. He feels very alone. He suffers for it.

He had a best friend last year. His mother sought me out on Back-To-School Night. Came in, calling out, “Where is Little Dude’s mom, Andrew cannot not stop talking about him!”  We exchanged numbers. They were BFFs from the first day of school. Inseparable for months.

Until Andrew found out we were Jewish. After that, he never spoke to my son again.

When you have a kid, and they hurt like that…it’s different than your own hurt. It’s much, much worse. It’s an amalgam of your pain and theirs. Times one hundred.

And this week, yet again.  We’re hosting a holiday breakfast in his classroom. The class mom emailed the 4 of us running it, asking who would like to read a holiday book. Little Dude was all over that.

“Mom, please, YOU be the reader!”

He’s been listening to Christmas books for the last 5 years. So I volunteered. The class mom asked if we needed the librarian to help us choose something.

“No thanks, he’s picked his favorite Hanukkah book. It’s hilarious, and the kids will love it.”

She sent me an email.  No holiday books allowed. The teacher only wants winter-themed books.

After I could breathe again, I starting working on how I was going to present this to my son. I ended up just saying it very offhandedly,

“Oh, Mrs. Dugan wants a winter-themed book; we should go the library to get one.”

He’s too smart for that.  “What? Since when? That’s crazy! They read a Christmas book every year” and on and on.  That night he cried himself to sleep, which he hasn’t done in years.

 —

I needed to put the pain of this somewhere. I wrote a post about Real Life Trolls attacking me.  I titled it:

“Confessions of a N-word Lover.” I spelled the word out.

Because of all things in the world,  I abhor racism the most. Because I’ve proudly loved black, white, and brown men. Because I thought I would use that word blatantly and take the stigma off of it. Like the artist who inspired me to become a writer – Patti Smith.

I contacted Le Clown, because I was borrowing a phrase of his in the post. I wanted to make sure he was comfortable with that.

 And then he took the time, because he is the incredible Clown he is, to tell me that he was worried for me. That he feared I would be attacked, not by trolls, but by well spoken people. And that it was perhaps not my place to take the sting off this word, because using it lacked sensitivity.

Thank God.

I took it down.

If people don’t read you, then your message exists in a vacuum.

Mostly, I took it down because the thought of hurting anyone is abhorrent to me. As immune as I am to that word in print, others are not. Others did not grow up desensitized to it through repetition.

Le Clown was right.

After I posted today, I went on my reader to comment on some posts.  Bloggers had unfollowed me; beloved bloggers.

And now? Now I have to sit with the fact that I hurt some of you. Maybe many of you.

What if you unfollowed me because you’re  African-American? Or if you’re married to someone African-American?  Or you just thought it was disgusting?

This post is to say, if I hurt you, I am sorry. I was insensitive. This was a hard lesson.

Yes, I am provocative and edgy. But to hurt people? The way I’ve been hurt? The way my son is being hurt? To do the exact thing to people that incited me to write the damn post?

It’s tearing me up. And now I have to live with that.

We have to do better. Intentions are not enough. If my actions are insensitive; cause pain, whether intentional or not, I need to examine those actions.  Better yet, to think before I act.

I wish I’d had the courage to marry the boy upstairs.

And we were sitting here right now, and he would kiss me with those beautiful, honey flavored, color blind lips.

Kiss these tears off my face.

Kiss these words off my lips.

Did I do the right thing, taking that post down? Talk to me. I’m listening. 

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85 responses to On Using The N-Word in Your Post Title: A Cautionary Tale

  1. 

    I read that post. I understood your use of the word. Yes its a distateful word but you werent using it as an attack. you were using it to show how you were attacked.
    right wrong. You didnt mean harm. xxx Dont beat yourself up.

    • 

      I am beating myself up, but good. Yes, it was about being attacked. Of course. But what’s the point? If you hurt people, you’re just as bad as the people who hurt you.

      Not meaning harm doesn’t mean you don’t cause any. I have a friend who meant no harm, but he hurt me terribly. We all have to watch what we do and say here, with one another, on the planet earth. I’m going to include that in the post.

      Thank you for saying this, for supporting me, for reading and following. I appreciate you.

  2. 

    Is it this post you’re referring to? If your intent is to harm, then harm you’ll do, but it’s clear that’s not your intent. We give words power; we can take away that power and replace it with something cleaner, but only if we confront it. I admire your guts. And you are anything but trying to do harm.

    This is a great post. Honest and heart-wrenching.

    • 

      Trent-
      No, the post was called “Confessions of an “N-word Lover.” As I wrote to Mark, it was not meant to be shocking; the post named itself, as all my posts to. I don’t spend much time on titles. I should.

      That’s the issue here. The lack of thinking. My intent was to take away the power of that word. It has very little power over me; I’m immune. But others clearly are not. And I’ve hurt people. People I care about, which I also just commented to Mark.

      Sometimes, when you’re in the middle of a boatload of shit, more shit happens. That’s probably because it’s best to get it all over with at once. That’s what’s happening today; I’ve got lots on my plate and it’s not pretty. And of course, now this!! I believe it has something to do with physics!

      I needed to get that story out. I wrote it in record time with no revisions. The reliving of that one experience is not something I would have chosen for a Saturday afternoon. I’m glad my kid is with his father today.

      You’re always so supportive, Trent, and you have no idea how much that means to me.

  3. 

    I read it, too. I thought it was a beautifully written, heartfelt post. But it was strong stuff. I’m sure it wasn’t designed to push buttons but I’m betting it did. Time heals. You’ve been around all the dark alleys of hurt enough times to know that’s true. Be still.

    It’s hard to believe that the nonsense regarding your son still goes on but, of course, it does. It’s naive to think otherwise. It’s not like that everywhere, though. Last night, literally, less than a day ago, my 7 year-old came home from school and, quite proudly, sang for us the Hanukkah song that’s included in the school holiday concert. There are exactly two–TWO–Jewish kids in the entire school. There’s hope.

    • 

      Mark-
      I didn’t name that post to push buttons. My posts just name themselves – all of them. I rarely take time to think of a name. THAT’S the problem. I DIDN’T THINK.

      I’ve been exposed to that word so much it didn’t occur to me that it would hurt anyone, offend them so much they would stop reading. And I mean that in all sincerity.

      But the thought that I hurt people – quite honestly- is killing me. I’ve written several times that I was not in a good place a few months back, and then I found Le Clown, and his followers. And they saved me. You all made me laugh, and think, and you saved me.

      And one of them, someone who inspired and made me laugh from the beginning – has unfollowed me. This blogger saved me from dark times. And now, I repaid them how? By offending and hurting them?

      It’s killing me. What a terrible thing.

      Not having a good day today. Not at all. Thank you for your kind words.

  4. 

    I know it’s not what you necessarily want to hear, but the truth is– hurting people is all part of this blogging gig. I like to think I write one of the least offensive blogs out there– given that I rarely write about anything important or deep– but I can count on an email expressing hurt at least once a month. It’s always unintentional, and sometimes the hurt is something they invented in their own mind (like the people who thought I was being racist and calling brown people animals by use of my dinosaur image), but it always hurts to know I caused hurt. Sometimes you get the chance to resolve it, as I did with those who emailed me– explaining that I am in fact brown girl so I wasn’t about to have my husband draw a white girl in a dino suit any more than I’d have him draw a brown man in a dino suit.

    But you have to think that for every person who reaches out to say something, three more just walked away.

    It’s human nature to look for hurts, and it’s human nature to wrap ourselves in our bad memories and insecurities and thoughts about how others think of us. We walk around in shells. Blogging and blog-reading pulls people from their shells.

    It’s a sad thing, because that’s how they get hurt… and it’s a beautiful thing because that’s how they learn to live without the shell. 🙂

    In other words… have no worries, my friend. Hurt happens, but people heal and as long as your intention is not to create grief, then you have no reason to beat yourself up.

    • 

      Rara love,
      I have so many thoughts – first, I’m glad you’re feeling better.

      Also, It’s ironic that you think you rarely write about anything important or deep – that’s rich. Truly. Yes, you are lighthearted, but your blog is not shallow.

      Of course my intention was not to hurt, but that simply is not enough, in my opinion. We all have to take care of the other humans on the planet, and go beyond just “not intending” to hurt. Intent is not enough. We have to make sure our actions back up our intent. In this respect, I was lacking.

      I would not be so sad had I not alienated a particular blogger, one who showed love early on, when I was just starting to emerge from my “dark days.” This is what I’m struggling with. A blogger inspired me and made me laugh, and I hurt or offended them in return. It sucks.

      This too shall pass. Thank you for being you. You’ve shown me enormous kindness today.

      • 

        I’m with Rara on this one. Of course your intention wasn’t to hurt. I though, reckon that is enough. You ain’t responsible for another’s sensitivities. What other people think of you is none of your business (as I see it). Words are, after all, just words. Some carry a greater weight than others. Some bear a long carriage of history. And generally, certain societies try to disuade certain words more than they do others. Sure. Who’d deny that? But how are you supposed to accommodate for everyone around you? By living in a perfect little bubble of PCness? By forever treading on broken eggshells? Then you couldn’t say fuck. That word offends many people. Fuck that, I reckon. In Aus, we’ve got this law known colloquially as the ‘egg-shell skull rule’. Essentially, it means that if someone suffers from an ‘egg-shell skull’, meaning, their skull is as thin as an egg-shell (some weird, but true, medical condition), and you innocently tap them on the back of the head, and then they die, you could be held accountable for manslaughter; you gotta take people as they are. Which is nice in theory, but absurd in reality. Be you, be true, that’s all you can do. I mean, if you’re directly calling someone a twaddle hat, that ain’t nice, no matter your intention, I reckon. But if you casually used a word that multitudes find offensive, and you offended someone whom you respect by doing so – oh well. Life will go on. It’s never nice hurting people, but it happens. ‘Tis life. (Soz bout the lengthy comment. I’m stuck in NZ with m’lady, and living on my laptop.)

      • 

        Hey, thanks for taking the time to give this some serious thought.Most comments on this post were really lengthy. It was just that kind of post.

        Of course my intention was not to offend, but there’s more than intention. I’ve been really hurt by someone who “didn’t mean to” and it’s fucked up, man. We have to do better. Think more. What might come out the other end of your action? That’s what I’m talking about.

        Meanwhile, life has gone on. And I dig your blog as well, and I learned “twaddle hat.” I’m stealing that. Love to NZ.

  5. 

    I won’t tell you not to beat yourself up, samara, because, well… I’m pretty masochistic and do it myself, all. the. time. I’m usually worried about offending before I offend, worrying while I offend, and worrying after I’ve offended. I worry pretty much all the time, and it’s not often that I’m doing something other than second-guessing myself.

    While I’m pretty white, Ephramite, and mostly of Danish heritage, I’ve seen myself looking in from the outside often enough. Racism and prejudice sucks, and I don’t completely understand why people continue to subscribe to “us vs. them” mentalities. Maybe it helped our survival as tribal groups in ancient times, but it’s not doing us much good now.

    • 

      What a remarkable observation – maybe it did help our survival back then. Is that how racism developed? And yes, we no more have the need for it than we have the need to hunt and kill our own food.

      • 

        Thank you, really. But I’m pretty sure others have said similar things– who, exactly, I can’t remember.

        Right you are that we don’t *need* to hunt anymore. Both animal husbandry and agriculture has yielded a LOT more food production. It’s easier to cultivate both flora and fauna than to hunt or gather it in the wild. I remember reading a guide on how to skin a squirrel for wilderness survival– not much meat there. We really do have an easier time with various livestock. Plants– well, the cultivation of maize (corn), potatoes, and peanuts in the Americas is miraculous. The variety of corn and potatoes alone which originate from the Americas is staggering– and that’s not counting the sweet potato, which is actually a starchy taproot that isn’t a potato at all.

        I watched a TED talk about the misnomer of the paleo diet– there’s nothing about it that even resembles Stone Age diets. Most of our food has been bred and engineered many times over since that ancient time, and all to our (over?)prosperity.

  6. 

    I guess I have to start wtih my confusion. If they were following you, then they know you don’t talk about flowers and rainbows on your blog, then they know that you have a good purpose behind the difficult subjects you write about, then they judged you based on the title, rather than the content…? They judged you because of the use of one word, without reading the post to see why you would use that word. And they unfollowed… I say good riddance.

    I guess I’m disagreeing with Le Clown, despite his magnificence. So be it.

    As Rara said, you can have the best of intentions and you may end up hurting someone anyway, that’s not on you… you didn’t set out to hurt anyone, you set out to instruct, to teach, to broaden minds, and show people different perspectives.. it was their choice to be hurt. And they left without even stopping to ask you why you had written it, to see if they could get further insight, and perhaps get a better understanding of where you were coming from, and what point you were trying to make…

    What are they afraid of? And, it must be fear, right? Why else would they run away?

    Perhaps that’s not fair of me. I don’t know there stories. I don’t know what perspective they are bringing to the blogosphere. It’s obviously different from mine. I read posts that challenge me, that I don’t agree with, that piss me off, get under my skin, make me want to argue until I’m blue in the face (or my fingers fall off). Why? Because, perhaps I’ll learn something I didn’t know before. Perhaps I’ll see the world slightly different, slightly better. Perhaps I’ll be more understanding of people and issues and ideas that didn’t line up with how I thought about them before I read about a different perspective, thought process, etc…

    I know you are on a quest to be heard, to build a following for your words, and the following will come because you are too talented for it not to, but to those who you lost this week I again say good riddance.

    Chin up. Wipe those tears away. You are a talented writer. You love your family. You are a good person. You don’t need everyone in this world to see that for them to still be truths.

    • 

      It’s amazing to receive this kind of support. And especially from a writer who I respect and admire so much.

      I know you are okay with those sorts of posts; we’d spoken about it. And that is just another amazing thing about you.

      But there is something about that word – another blogger said to me, of all the inflammatory words, that one is in a class by itself. I crossed the line.

      When I went to comment on those bloggers’ posts, and they were not in my reader, I was in pain over who they were. They were special to me. Inspirational.

      In the end, Le Clown was right to want to help me. I can’t stand the fallout, and the post was up an HOUR. If it had stayed up all day, for days…I’d be in a really bad way.

      Thank you for understanding my intention. The fact that we understand each other in that way is what bonds us together.

    • 

      Le Clown… magnificence… no, I don’t get it. There is apparently something about him that I’m missing somehow. All I see is abrasiveness in posts, with confusingly sweet replies. I am not in his inner circle.

      I can’t put my finger on it, and I dare not poke more lest I offend someone unintentionally. But he intimidates me.

      • 

        I don’t know about “inner circles”- I emailed 2 people before that post, because I was referencing them, and I had to make sure they were okay with it. He was one of them.

        Le Clown protected me in a way that some of my own family members don’t. It is what it is.

        The same way you are all helping me to recover from my pain. I guess now you are in my inner circle. love, samara.

      • 

        Yeah, it’s cool. I’ve talked with Rara, including the Black Box Warnings blog. She said something to the effect that he’s protective of a number of bloggers, especially on that blog– so others don’t dare mess with them. It must be nice to have someone so when posting about vulnerable things. I haven’t ever had that.

        Pardon my insecurity and envy showing through. It’s not terribly fair of me at all. Some of it is pain (my surgery scars are flaring red today), and part of it is looking back at old blog posts, and wishing I had more to show for it. I’ve asked myself, “how do people [I don’t mean you specifically, samara, it’s a number of bloggers I’ve just met] start writing only a few months ago, and get lots of comments, where I get hardly any in 10 years? Oh. Maybe it’s because I’m a grumpy grouch a lot.”

        Much love received, much love given; it’s needed today. Poor wifey is snoring logs right now– she’s not doing well either

      • 

        I think he would be mortified to hear that he intimidates you. That’s not his intent. He can be abrasive, and edgy, but the under current is always in the pursuit of change for the better.
        “Magnificence” is his word, part of his ego stroking persona.
        He is, however, quite skilled at marketing. It’s his day job as well as his hobby, and because of that he has a good understanding of what his intended audience, what the blogosphere, can and cannot tolerate… and he walks a fine line with each of his posts.

      • 

        Oh, I sense that– it’s not his fault, it’s mine. When I started blogging ten years ago, I ran into people that WERE abrasive, but more malcontent than simply edgy. They wanted to kick ass and take names for all they deemed right; those that got hurt be damned, usually. Add to that many years of emotional and mental abuse in my past– yeah, the problem is just mine.

      • 

        I think that’s one of the great things about the blogosphere. No matter what you are looking for, you can find it here… that means you’ll also find things you aren’t looking for from time to time, but they can’t take the shine off the bright spots.

      • 

        THIS I love. This thought provoking discourse between other bloggers.

        You’re all such intelligent articulate human beings, this is giving me major BLOGASMS.

      • 

        Jaklumen,
        As DJ points out in a subsequent comment, “magnificent” is a marker, a shtick, a work I use as an author to exaggerate Le Clown’s over the top personality. He is a character, and yes, he is abrasive. He doesn’t mean harm, but he will provoke hoping it triggers reflection. He has a very strong opinion of course, and uses blogging, his own platform, to express them. This being said, people with very different opinions will come over, and as long as opinions are shared respectfully, banters in the comment threads are usually quite friendly.

        As for Black Box Warnings, this is basically me, the author, Eric. It is not that I am feeling protective about the writers who share their stories, it is simply because the stories that are shared are personal, and sometimes they come from a place of hurt, and I want to offer these writers a place where they feel safe to write their stories, and where they know they won’t be attacked when they are feeling more vulnerable. Mental “Illness” has been around me all my life, and this is my place where writers/bloggers/individuals can find support in a community which find solace in respect.

        I will agree with DJ again, I am sorry that I, or my character, intimidates you. I can understand if (we) make you feel uncomfortable, but my intent is not to intimidate.
        Eric/Le Clown

      • 

        I do get the point of BBW– I neglected to say so in a better way. I found out about it by way of Aussa and Rara’s blogs and it was reasonably clear that it was supposed to be a safe space.

        I’ve been in the mental health system for 29 years, since I was 10, so, yep, it’s been full-on a part of my life– not just around me, but in me. Besides bona fide illness of my own, there’s a lot of trauma issues, and I’m still learning to see trust as more granular than all or nothing– as you’ve already well seen.

        Thanks for taking some time for me.

      • 

        Jak,
        Also, if you’d ever like to write a piece for BBW, I am inviting you personally.
        Le Clown

      • 

        Hi there, Jaklumen. I feel your pain about feeling alone and unappreciated in the blogosphere. I truly do. I’ve been very fortunate in finding a network of fantastic people here, among them Le Clown, who happens to be my best friend. But outside the blogosphere, I feel the aloneness and unappreciation a lot, and it eats away at me, the way Le Clown and his circle are eating away at you. So I absolutely get it.

        It’s okay if you don’t “get” Le Clown or his posts. For the record, he’s one of the nicest, most sensitive, gentlest, people out there. His posts can be edgy, but he’s a very kind soul. But please don’t bash him simply because you’re having a bad day. It’s not fair to him, and it’s not fair to you either, because I suspect that you’re like me. You get envious of people who have what you want, and you wish you could have it too, and it gnaws at you when you’re having a rough time. I know how you feel, and I wish I could reassure you that if you just open yourself up to more people around here, they’ll respond to you in kind.

      • 

        Yeah, I’m not trying to bash him (please see my other replies) although I understand why it would seem that way. After years of trauma (more offline than on, but including online), I’m trying to be a little more authentic with my emotions as one of my therapists instructed me to do, but I did worry that letting them go like this might be misunderstood– despite all my best efforts to explain.

        I appreciate all the replies I’ve gotten so far, including yours. My WordPress experience so far has been *incredibly* positive experience, compared to the mistrust I saw on other platforms (I still liked VOX overall). I’m sorry that I haven’t spent more time talking about that, but I will do so more from this point on.

  7. 

    Samara… I read your blog BECAUSE you’re provocative. Whether I agree with your posts or not is irrelevant. If I agree with you, you’ll know it. If I don’t, I have the ability to call you out on it, and we can have a discussion. If I’m really upset, I can say to you, “WTF, Samara? Why did you say that?” and give you the chance to explain. We’re all entitled to our opinions. The N-word is a hot-button. Should you have used it? On the surface, probably not. But it spoke to the point of your post. And it was a good point. A thought-filled, provocative, raw point. Life is not all rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes it’s a never ending shit storm. And, sadly, people will always be there to judge. What you wrote was part of your human experience. And you put it out there. It’s done. I think, somewhere in the back of your mind, you had to know you were going to be stirring up a big bubbling cauldron of emotion with people. Yep, you probably got some people pretty steamed up. But they’ll cool off. That’s what blogging is all about… putting yourself out there. I give you credit for that. You weren’t deliberately trying to hurt anyone. And you are NEVER going to be able to please everybody all the time.

    You’re strong, Samara. Don’t let one post undermine you. Brush yourself off and carry on. It’s a new day. I look forward to your next post.

    • 

      I hear everything you said. I read it, three, four times. And yes, today is a new day. And I am a new me.

      What carried me over the edge was the two particular bloggers I went looking for to comment on. I had strong feelings for them. It hurts to hurt people you care for.

      There’s getting people steamed up, and there’s crossing the line. All the best bloggers get people steamed up. I feel I crossed the line.

      Thank you for your words, your opinion, for taking the time to sit through this with me. It has helped me enormously.

  8. 

    Wow, Samara, something somewhat similar happened to me last week. I’d posted a poem, an ode to a friendship that ended quite harshly. You even commented on it. Then the person who I’d written it about apparently read it, became extremely offended, and tried to ruin my life with a phone call. I had wanted to write something about our friendship for months; it had been building up inside. When I finally sat down one early morning and let it all out I felt this wave of release. To me it was a beautiful tribute. To her an insult and a damaging of her ego. I can’t believe she reacted like this. But then again, in remembering the past I should have known. I deleted it from my blog but I’m thinking I should go back and leave it where it was. It is a part of me. I did not mean to cause harm with my writing, as I know you did not with yours. But I guess we can’t control what others will think or feel. I was being real and it came back and slapped me in the face.

    But we must write on. Continue to write from the gut. I was thinking just the other day about offensive words and blogs. I thought of the N word and wondered if in the right context would you spell it out? I question all the time if I should spell out the F word on my blog. I mean, my mom reads it and I don’t want to offend her. Even though she cussed like a sailor my entire childhood.

    Regardless, this was a great post, one I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Thank you for sharing your gift and yourself. I hope Little Dude is smiling again.

    • 

      How ironic that you wrote a beautiful tribute, a eulogy, I suppose – and she took it all wrong. That sucks. Ouch.

      You hit the nail on the head. I could easily have written the post, gotten my point across without spelling the word out. I didn’t think.

      Your mom cussed like a sailor?? that’s hilarious!! My mom did not, but I always find it funny when I find out moms did that. I have to try so hard not to in front of Little Dude, because I have such a potty mouth. Like the “F Mom” on the Louis CK tv show.

      Little Dude is smiling today, and so am I. God, I love how you always think of him. You are such a MOM. It’s in every pore of your being. Like me.

  9. 

    Hey lovely lady. I’ve been dying to check out your blog since you left such nice comment love on mine. I’ve been away all weekend and just sitting down to my computer. I’ve been bopping around here and I must say I have a blog crush already! I’m crazy about the honest and candid way you present yourself. This particular post is so raw — wow. When I was reading the beginning it brought back memories of the first time I heard that (awful) word. Sort of similar. I went to an elementary school that was about 60% black, 25% white, 15% Hispanic, Asian. I grew up with all colors so I never saw them, you know what I’m saying? It was my normal. I was bussed to the school so it wasn’t in my neighborhood. When I got to Junior High (which was in my predominately white neighborhood) I knew every one of the few black kids at the school, obviously. Well, for the first time someone called me the same thing they called you. I still STILL remember that feeling. I was shocked, enraged, I felt protective for my friends, confused, sad….the full gamut of emotions. It was so awful. I still get hot-faced mad when I hear that phrase.

    Anyway, your post and the feelings and intent behind the story were beautiful, and had a purpose. I’m sorry that your original title inadvertently turned some people off that you cared about. I hope they come around and come back to you. I know you feel bad about it, and I feel bad for you because I know you didn’t mean any harm!

    this might be my longest comment ever. haha! sorry for my long-winded story. sometimes I forget about that incredible school I was lucky enough to attend, and the unique-cultural-ethnic-melting-pot upbringing it afforded me.

    • 

      Oh my god, you just brought tears to my eyes.

      I have spent years enraged and hating my shitty housing project childhood, BUT – it gave me a diverse and “unique cultural ethnic melting pot upbringing” that has made me who I am today. Thank God!

      I don’t even know you, and you suddenly helped me articulate the wonderful thing about how I grew up. And what fuels my hatred for racism today. It’s 6:57 am, and I just had a BREAKTHROUGH. My therapist thanks you.

      xoxoxoxoxoxoxo mad love

      • 

        THAT. Right up there *points up to your comment* is why I love blogging so very much. It has become part of me. Meshed itself within the fibers of the writer me. The connections are unbelievably REAL. And the “aha” moments are more than I can count.
        Mad love right back xoxoxo

  10. 

    I’ve just stumbled across you this morning, and am looking forward to getting stuck into your archives! I haven’t read the original post you refer to yet, but based on the sensitivity and compassion with which you’ve written this one, I agree with the first commenter that you shouldn’t beat yourself up. As writers we don’t have any control over how people receive our writing – maybe some of the people that unfollowed had personal triggers about the subject you couldn’t possibly know about – we can only write with integrity and let the chips fall where they may. Which is easier said than done, I know, but worth keeping in mind as a principle at least!

    • 

      Claire-
      Welcome! Thank you so much – but you didn’t read the original post, and I used the N word, fully spelled out. I regret it. I hurt people; not just random people, but bloggers I care about.

      That is all.

      Thank you for visiting me, and I’ll be bye to visit you as well!

      • 

        I gathered that from this post, and my opinion still stands – I appreciate that many will disagree with me, but for me, the intention matters a lot more than the use of a particular word. Words only have the power we allow them to. As I said before though, I get that that word sets people off regardless of the context, and completely understand why.

        Thanks – I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

  11. 

    Samara,
    You know where I stand on this, most of this was shared by email. I think the choice to keep or remove your post is/was yours, and that who ever stopped following you was not meant to be one of your readers. You will win some, and lose some. I received a huge backlash last XMAS when I posted images of Le Clown crucified and wrote an apology letter, lost hundreds of readers.

    What I do now is simple: I keep my voice. If I write something that will offend fundamentally a reader, I will write a preface. But I will NOT change my voice to please a crowd.

    The N word, the B word, the C word, I am personally not comfortable with them, for various intellectual reasons, and this is my opinion. I shared my thoughts with you, based on my comfort zone, and my thought process with these words.

    I think this is a great post that will generate positive discussion, and many conflicting opinions. If my wife or The Belle Jar or Rosie from Make Me a Sammich, and even Britni from Fiending for Hope would drop by, they would feel as I do, based on their sets of values. But it doesn’t make our opinions absolute, nor THE voices to follow. We’re just representing a side of the equation.

    I do believe in intent VS impact… And even though the intent is not to hurt, I still believe that a great deal of thought needs to be applied before posting something that MIGHT hurt someone, if only to be able to exchange with readers in the comment section.
    Le Clown

    • 

      Samara,
      One more thing… As I said, too… If one of your posts would offend me, I would just skip it, and come back for the next one. I know well enough that this blog has more positive than annoyances, at least, personal annoyances.
      Le Clown

    • 

      My voice will always be my voice. But the minute I become UNTEACHABLE I am no longer alive. There was a lesson here for me. Not about censorship, but about sensitivity. And thinking before I post. I could just have gotten the message across without spelling the word out. And I did it, not to shock, (yes, I knew it was edgy) but because I didn’t think. We have to think, we humans of planet earth, when interacting with one another.

      And it wasn’t so much the masses I am sad over – Two particular people who are very dear to me. And I hurt them. Yes, life goes on . But I just wish I could take it back.

  12. 

    You are such a powerful writer, Samara. I haven’t yet read the post that caused such consternation—it wouldn’t have offended me, in fact I think the use of the full word would have made it more stark because of its ugliness, and the ugliness of the people who called you that.

    I didn’t know you were from NY! I had friends who went to those high schools as well, all my talented musical peeps from junior high. But I digress.

    With the exception of my posts that target extreme right-wing nutjobs, I don’t go out of my way to offend people—as I know you don’t either—but you know what, some people insist on being offended regardless. That’s kind of their problem, in my opinion. So rock on with your bad self.

    • 

      I took it down, because after Le Clown emailed me back, I realized I would not be able to handle the fallout. He was right. It was up an hour, and I lost some friends, and was positively in a fetal position over it.

      Oh, I am SO a New York girl! You too? I should have known! You badass! Thanks for your support Madame Weebles. You’re one of the reasons I blog.

      • 

        Born in Manhattan, raised in Queens, and then lived in Manhattan for 20 years until I got married and moved to…Hoboken. Every day I wake up in New Jersey, a little part of me dies.

      • 

        NO YOU DIDN’T SAY THAT.

        I just wrote that today. I just wrote that line today – every day I live in the suburbs, a little part of me dies. Holy shit. Al least you’re in Hoboken. It’s still cool there. I remember when you’d get the crap kicked out of you for a quart of beer in Hoboken.

        Born in the Bronx, raised on Staten Island (god help me) and lived in Manhattan for 15. The best 15 years of my life.

        As soon as Little Dude goes to college, it’s back to New York. I’ll live in a cardboard box. A 2 bedroom cardboard box, so he can visit during the holidays.

      • 

        Represent, sis. One of my best friends in high school lived on Staten Island, I actually loved going to sleepovers at her house because it was like being in the country, compared to Queens. She lived in Egbertville, so I’d take the ferry (sea voyage!) and the SIRT to New Dorp. Those were good times. But doing it every day would blow.

        Yeah, I hear you on the 15 best years being in Manhattan. I lived in a tiny studio apartment in Soho, and I still miss it so fucking much, my heart is squeezing now just thinking about it.

      • 

        Unfortunately, I grew up in the Stapelton projects, so I don’t have those country-like memories. More like getting my ass kicked everyday and car jacked a lot.

        East Village girl here, and I loved my studio apartment. Why oh why did I ever move? We could have made it work, could have put the nursery in closet, something…

        Heading back to the East Village in 2 weeks to see Patti Smith at Webster Hall. How’s that for heart squeezing?

      • 

        I had a friend who grew up in St. George, he had similar memories.

        Oh Webster Hall. And I still mourn the loss of CBGBs. Massive heart squeezing happening now.

      • 

        I saw this comment but couldn’t reply; I was at work. Talk about a massive heart squeeze.

        CBGBs. You killed me with that one. Perhaps I will dedicate a post to Hilly Kristal. CBs, hands down best sound system in New York. Backdrop to a lot of drama in my life. It’s like a whole page of history in your life gets erased. Like when you find out your college dormitory was completely torn down. Sucks.

  13. 

    Also, I forgot to mention that it is profoundly upsetting to hear about Little Dude’s friend Andrew. I kind of want to pay a visit to Andrew’s mother and shove a dreidel up her ass. Maybe a menorah.

  14. 

    Here is how I feel about people who unfollow you after one bad post, or one disagreement: forget about them. That isn’t your audience. Your true audience will understand that sometimes you have an off day, sometimes you speak out of turn, sometimes you offend. Nobody is perfect, not even the people who clicked the unfollow button.

    I think I told you in an e-mail that I was worried about making the transition on my blog from writing only humor pieces, to writing about the other sides of me. I have absolutely noticed that some people stopped showing up, and I’m fine with that. My true readers, those who really get me, keep coming around. The same will be true for you.

    I think your willingness to see the point Le Clown was making is important, and differentiates you from other people I’ve seen here on WordPress. It wasn’t that you agreed with him; rather, it was that you kept an open mind, and tried to learn something from it. That alone is worth it to keep following you.

  15. 

    I find the bit about your son to be absolutely horrifying– I’m surprised that his teacher said that about wanting it to be “winter themed” books when he says they are always about Christmas. This makes me so very sad… call me naive, but I didn’t realize that level of discrimination against Jewish people was so prevalent as to be casually occurring in an elementary school classroom? Granted… I was at Target tonight trying to find Hanukkah decorations and there was absolutely nothing. I couldn’t believe it…. in a huge display of Christmas stuff they didn’t have anything. I have to be a part of this “Deck the Halls” christmas thing at work where we decorate our area and have food and so I wanted to have a mashup of different holidays. Sorry, tangent.
    My degree is in African-American Studies… I’ve seen so much of what you talked about here, and it’s just disgusting. I’m sorry you got some backlash for your earlier post… I wasn’t online to read it before you took it down but it’s obvious that you were not writing from a position of malice.
    Take heart, love! Clearly we all adore you 🙂

  16. 

    Growing up, I was one of only a handful of Jewish kids in my school. I am thankful that I never received any real harassment about it. Sure, there was the occasional teasing or jokes about the usual stereotypes, but I never took it to be malicious. I think of the South Park episode where Token feels out of place, until the kids remind him that they make fun of everyone for something.

    I’m sorry that you and your family have felt true maliciousness.

  17. 

    I think if you write with the intent of being honest, there is no problem. That is exactly how I interpreted this piece. You are not being malicious. You are just telling it like it is.

    As a writer, I’ve found – especially from writing for Huffington Post (oh the comments) – that there is no pleasing everyone. I get that from being a mother too. The truth hurts sometimes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say it. That’s my take on it.

    • 

      Thanks, Amanda.
      But the original piece had the word spelled out in the title, and it’s not cool. A lot of people just don’t want to see that word. I love that they don’t want to see that word. I hate that word.

      They missed my point. But now, I lost them. Life goes on.
      Thanks, girl.

      • 

        Life does go on. Do what you can to make amends if you feel like it was a mistake, and move forward. Anyway, some people are unhappy no matter what.

  18. 

    Grasshopper.. The Bhagavad Gita says the intention is what matters. The act not so much… Po..

  19. 

    Americans are way too sensitive about everything: color, religion which must make it really hard and tiring to live there. The people that unfollowed you, obviously don’t get you and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. You already have to tiptoe through daily life and this blog is your space. People are free to choose to read it, and if they object they are free to leave. The N-word became loathed through history and it may become unloathed again in the future. Who knows? Maybe you were the start of that 😉

    • 

      Thank you for stopping by, and taking the time to read and comment. It means a lot to me.

      Well, they were free to leave – and leave they did! I’m finally over it – it only took about a week. The beat goes on.

  20. 

    This was very big of you to apologize, darling, but it seems like you used it contextually. Your writing is solid, and your voice is easy to hear (if you know what I’m saying). Happy Hanukkah to you and your family.

    • 

      Thank you so much! It was a tough lesson to learn – but part of blogging is, you going to evoke feelings from people. Not always the best feelings.

      I’m thrilled that you stopped by. I adore your blog, and hope you visit when you can. I really do dig all the fine funny talented ladies out there. Some good men as well, but as usual, the ladies are leading the pack.

      *sigh* Never enough good men.

  21. 

    I get that N-word is an insult – but it was an insult you have received, not one you addressed to someone. If it’s ever acceptable for a white person to use this word, you have definitely earned this (dubious) right. If the people are unable to make the distinction between someone who makes the insult and someone who is being insulted, that’s their problem. Unfortunately, they can just as easily make it your problem, too, so I’m not really sure if it was a right choice to delete the post or not. But an apology is definitely not necessary.

    P.S. Blogs of the people you follow shouldn’t disappear from your reader just because they unfollowed you. You should still be able to read any public blog. Now if their have a private blog, that’s different.

    • 

      I felt an apology was in order, because two people I really like unfollowed me.

      This one blog is completely GONE – when I typed in the name; it DOESN’T exist. It comes up as “deleted.” There must be a way they had me blocked or something.

      The other blog is there. Yes. But I had lost her as a follower. That hurts. She was one of my first – maybe my second- follower. Ouch.

      • 

        People delete blogs all the time. Someone, I think it was Rara, looked at her first 100 or so followers and found that only a fraction of them are still active. People also unfollow bloggers for multiple reasons. Are you sure you lost them because of the N-word, and it was not just a coincidence?
        If yes – maybe a personal e-mail can still reach them, if you really want them back.

      • 

        He’s still there. Just not to me.

        The sad thing is, I was given the Sunshine award (which is kind of ironic) and he was one of the bloggers I wanted to pass it on to. I may try awarding it to him via email, as you suggested. If that doesn’t make me seem like too much of a twit.

  22. 

    You can’t really be surprised that you lost some followers because of the use of that word, can you? I think it it has long been understood that the “N word” has been claimed back by black people and it’s use by
    anyone else is offensive. There is no point beating yourself up over it, you took a gamble during an intellectual exercise and it went tits up. From what I have read of your blog you may be “edgy” but you also come across as a decent person, I like you. 🙂

    • 

      Hi Mick Gorman, and Happy New Year!!

      I guess I was surprised – because I thought people would read it first, and find out that I had been abused with that word all my life and understand.

      But then Le Clown pointed out to me that sometimes, the word itself is so jarring, that people won’t even go past the title to read the post. So, if the message is lost because of the title, then I’ve lost, because I blog to share my experiences with whomever honors me by reading it.

      I’m edgy; it’s a New York/East Village/punk rock thing. But I have a soft side; I’m a mommy and I bake for the PTO and all that! I am so grateful you found your way to me, and that you took the time to comment, because that takes effort.

      I hope to be able to pop by your blog and visit. I have many friends I’m trying to read. Thank you for saying I am decent, I quite think I am too. Except when I’m not (insert saucy emoticon here).

      • 

        I wouldn’t rush to read my blog, it can be boring unless you like dogs or hearing some old bloke moaning about his epilepsy and MS. 😀
        I will visit yours often though.

      • 

        I like all kinds of blogs, sir, and I’m honored you took the time to read mine.

        Perhaps you should read some of my less edgy stuff? May I recommend my “On Clarity” post, or “The Tenses of Forgiveness?” Then you’ll find my soft white underbelly.

        Thank you. I’m grateful you stopped by.

      • 

        I read “the tenses of forgiveness” I was very touched by it, I thought it was a lovely piece of writing. 🙂

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