This week two things happened concerning the N-word; one didn’t involve me, one did.

The rapper Nas, who had wanted to give his latest CD that negative appellation, was turned down by his record producers, and now it will just be named after him. It seems the publishers would actually like to sell some records to what they’re hoping will be the masses, and they knew that most stores wouldn’t carry the CD if it had that name on it. That money ended up being the reason to give this guy a figurative slap in the face seems somewhat appropriate under the circumstances.

The second did involve me, when someone I was talking to suddenly uttered the word, and then instantly apologized. I know the person didn’t mean it, and this person didn’t call me that name, but it shocked me hearing it come from her, especially as she’s not black. I’m close to being over it by now.

However, I’ve been wondering over the last couple of days whether there’s really an equivalent word that upsets all white people in the same fashion. I know there are specific words for specific groups, or subsets, of folks based on religion, region, financial status, etc, but what about one generic word that is only reserved for white people in America; we’ll stick with that one for a minute.

I recalled a very edgy skit the first year of Saturday Night Live between Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor, one that I absolutely loved at the time, and still laugh at when I see it now, but know it would never have a chance to make it on TV in today’s world, even though there are some other things that do happen or are shown that shock a lot of people. I remember all the words Richard Pryor called Chevy Chase in response to the insults Chevy was hurling at Richard, and even back then I was struck with this notion that none of the words Richard Pryor was uttering was particularly earth shaking. In the 70’s those words literally had no meaning other than they were used from time to timee, and I don’t even know if any of those words are around today. I think it’s been at least 20 years since I’ve last heard any of those words used, not counting old TV shows.

And it’s this thought that brings me back to this thought about whether there’s the possibility of equal racism from one race to the other. When someone who’s not black utters the N-word, it has such strong negative connotations that it can make a person depressed or angry, and make the person who used it shudder in shame and bask in apologies. There’s a long history with the word, and it can be traced back to a period of time in America that many are wishing we’d all just forget about and move on; nope, not ready to.

Yet, I can’t think of a single specific word that goes in the other direction that, if I said it to every white person, would affect them in any fashion whatsoever. Not that I would want to, but just the fact that I can’t think of one either means there isn’t one, or it’s just not a part of my life, something that no one wants to share with me.

Just a thought I’m carrying around with me these days; I’m sure it’ll pass soon also.