We hear white people use some version of this excuse all the time: “It’s okay, I have a black friend.” And maybe you do. Or you have a black wife or husband or girlfriend. Or someone in your family is black. But regardless, that’s not a “get out of ignorance free” card. A supporter of Syracuse student-athlete Hannah Strong tried to use the excuse that she hung out with a lot of black people so it made this okay:
Over the weekend, a video was posted of Syracuse University student-athlete Hannah Strong, who is white, shouting the double-barrel slur(s) “faggot-ass nigger” at someone off camera before telling them not to record her and calling them “nigger” once more. It’s a short, shaky clip that starts with her berating a black man who has his hands in the air for some reason, and it is no understatement to say it’s unclear from the video what was going on there, with the one exception that she definitely used two of our most hateful slurs.
We bet she had a lot of gay friends, too.
Team Blackness also discussed the Oscar Pistorius verdict, the failings of fat shaming, and a woman with a strong affinity for her spaghetti strainer.
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Mike in dc
I have black friends and family….
….and that is why I don’t say ignorant shit like that.
She has black friends, huh?
Before or after those friends were shown that video?
The kids from Ferguson on that video said “Then you haven’t been a very good friend.”
As a fat man, I know fat shaming does not work and is incredibly counter productive.
I found her fat ass in those tiny shorts to be more offensive, honestly. YOU NEED LONG LEGS FOR DAISY DUKES. Body appropriate clothes, use them people.
@Nick: I bet you have a lot of fat-assed friends…
The Moar You Know
No black friends, no black family. And it’s not OK to call a person “nigger” even if you do have black friends or family. One could make the case that it’s a lot less OK, in fact.
@Nick: Where the fuck do awful people like you come from? Jesus.
@The Moar You Know:
I’ve always preferred the “some of my best friends are black” formulation. It has a certain totally insincere je-ne-sais-quoi that’s instantly recognizable.
Nick, that was a pretty good attempt at thread derailment. You get today’s Fat Ass In Tiny Shorts award. Carry it proudly.
I’m assuming that there must be some people out there who respond better to punishment and shaming than they do to positive reinforcement and support, but I’ve never actually met any. I can’t quite figure out if people do it because it’s a technique with a long history (even though it doesn’t work) or if there actually are people it works on. It sure as hell doesn’t work on me.
I think punishment and shaming have a lasting popularity not because they are effective, but because those who have the power find it gratifying to punish and shame.
It’s just an outlet for hate. People are simple creatures and if society says it’s OK to mistreat a certain group, there’s no shortage of frustrated, angry folk who will line up to hurl barbs, tomatoes, stones, whatever. I don’t even think it’s correlated with an honest disapproval or interest in effecting change. It’s just a straight-up two minutes hate.
I personally like the fact that one of her friends, supposedly a black man, uses the ‘fact’ that she sleeps with a black man as some sort of get-out-of-bigotry free card.
And when I say, “like”, I mean “put off”.
That is also rubbing me the wrong way. Am I the only one who feels that way?
@Mike in dc:
You got that half right. Even if you don’t have black friends and family, you should not say crap like that, period. It’s offensive to most white people as well, no matter what African Americans call each other — and I wish they wouldn’t do that either. Nevertheless, they can. We can’t. It’s a rather simple rule to follow.
@El Caganer: Crumbs. I guess I’ll try again tomorrow.
The Tiny Shorts Award reminded me of a brouhaha st Ohio State Football Franchise–Er, university. Several football players got in trouble for pawning tiny gold football-pants charms the university had loaned–Er, given them. Those kids were so dumb they thought that giving someone something means it’s his and he can do what he wants with it. I guess Ohio State showed them!
Villago Delenda Est
Sorry, but it just doesn’t matter how many black friends you have. You can’t go around using the n word like that.
You CAN use variant on the n word (like ni*CLANG*) to mock cracker racist shit all day long though. Because they need to be mocked. Constantly. Incessantly. Until such time as they get it through their thick skulls that they need to start treating people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Which is why they hate that concept. They have no content in their character.
I remember somebody saying that people perceive that punishment works better than reward because of reversion to the mean. We normally punish when people are behaving worse, even much worse, than they normally do, and we reward them when they’re behaving better, especially much better, than they normally do. Most people who are behaving especially badly will start to behave better even if you do nothing, and most people who are behaving especially well will start to behave less well if you do nothing.
So punishment seems to work because people start behaving better after being punished, and reward seems not to work because people start behaving less well after being rewarded. It’s a huge perceptual bias that causes no end of trouble.
I have no rational reason why, but your comment reminded me of the monkey fairness experiment, where the monkey protests getting treated unfairly by throwing the unwanted treat back at the researcher.
I’m an awesomely tolerant person. Why, some of my best friends are Republicans!
@The Moar You Know: “One could make the case that it’s a lot less OK, in fact.”
Yeah, because you should know better.
Tone In DC
Joss Whedon wrote a line years ago:
“Your brain isn’t even connected to your mouth, is it?” In Hannah’s case, nah, guess not.
One can be charitable about it, and paint Hannah as an ignorant kid masquerading as a college student.
Danny Ferry is in his late forties. So, what’s Ferry’s excuse?
Mike in NC
Maybe George Zimmerman will call and ask Hannah if she has a boyfriend.
Villago Delenda Est
@srv: Well, first we have to see if she weighs the same as a duck.
The formalities must be observed.
While we’re on the subject, I have a pretty diverse group of friends and there’s some pretty non-PC jokes that go around at times. But it would be a pretty huge betrayal for any of us to crack the same jokes in front of people who aren’t part of our group of friends.
YOU DO NOT have any Black friends.
if this can slip from your mouth, then you don’t consider them real friends.
you have Black Acquaintances.
You kinda failed to mention something about those supporters in that link
It doesn’t bother me when members of a group reclaim a word used to oppress them, but it doesn’t mean others should use it.
Some of the people that whine the loudest that black people can use the word nigger and white people can’t think Jeff Foxworthy is uproariously funny when he does that “you might be a redneck” bit, and yet they don’t respond well when called a redneck by someone who is not a member of their tribe.
 In fact, white people *can* use the word nigger, but all decent people who hear it will think they’re bigots. For some reason bigots seem to think that people realizing they’re bigots is unfair to them.
I’ve had non-Black people in my life since grade school. All ethnicities and religions. It has never occured to me to insult them that way. I am no saint, nor do I call it political correctness. I know that any kind of ‘friendship’ would be over if they had ever called me Nigger to my face or I had heard of them calling me a Nigger.
We would be DONE.
I’m Old School that way. I’m not these new fangled Negros that think you can take the sting out of the word. it is what it is, and if someone uses it against you, they mean every inch of the word.
I wish I black friends so I could use that phrase.
@Tone In DC:
Tried listening to the audio Deadspin provided, but damn is it hard to hear clearly what Ferry says completely.
Wonder, when we’ll get the complete transcript.
A Humble Lurker
For the record, I’m not so sure that’s what’s going on when black people use that word. I think it might be a white racism internalization, myself. However, even if I was right, it sure as hell ain’t my call whether or not they should use it.
I have people in my family like this. I’m pretty sure none of their ‘black friends’ know the things they say about black people (although the way they talk about them precludes the people) and they would never want them to know because on some very deep, maybe unconscious level they know what they’re saying is bullshit, or they wouldn’t feel the need to hide it.
I don’t know.
Punishment only works, when it is being actively applied or the threat of it being actively applied in the near term is imminent for any screw ups.
Both the punisher and punishee seem to be aware of this dynamic.
This gets to be a drain on everyone involved.
Because they don’t believe they’re bigots. When Those People say something I find offensive, they’re bigots. When my friends say something other people find offensive, they’re misunderstood. When I say something and other people are offended, they can’t take a joke.
The Moar You Know
@rikyrah: I am curious, and hope you do not mind me asking, but how do you feel about black folks using the word to each other?
The point, which I didn’t make clear before, is that punishment isn’t as effective as people think even when they take the dynamic you’re pointing out into effect. People still overestimate its effectiveness (and underestimate the effectiveness of reward) because of the reversion to the mean effect.
OT: Mark Sanford just put up a 2300-plus word Facebook post announcing that he’s broken up with his fiance, blaming the breakup on his ex-wife, stating that he’s going to retain a lawyer to fight the ex- wife, and, of course, invoking Jesus.
Villago Delenda Est
@kc: The stupidity of the people of South Carolina is confirmed by their election of that vile sack of shit to the United States Congress.
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
@kc: So much for soul mates. Crazy ass crackers for Christ. He tried to dress around it, but it didn’t work.
@Villago Delenda Est:
I’m from SC, but I can’t really argue with that.
@kc: It’s cringe inducing just to read that blubbering Facebook post. As Sarah Palin would say, he needs to man up.
Sanford wanted to change the woman in his bed, but otherwise keep everything else he had in his life the same. And now he has nothing.
@The Moar You Know:
I come from Laguna Beach, the most beautiful fucking city in the world. Where the fuck do you come from? Also, two things:
1. A person isn’t awful for making a joke about somebody who is actually awful.
2. Go fuck yourself with a rusty spoon.
A front pager responded to me!!! A first!!! Love your posts Betty, and dig the skate shoes. Sorry if my joke offended, most of my humor is a little off color.
Also, my wife has a fat ass. And I LOVE IT.
What if you have TWO black friends and a brown casual acquaintance? Wait, wait, I’ll raise you one swarthy buddy and…
@The Moar You Know: I wonder if there is any one reason- people are different. Maybe some black people use it as a kind of bravado, a kind of mental ‘fuck-you’ to whites. A reverse of the term that’s almost a term of affection? A kind of whistling-past-the graveyard. I have no idea.
A Humble Lurker
Oh my God, doesn’t that just tie into the thread so well? I have plenty of fat-assed friends! I’m married to one, in fact!!
Villago Delenda Est
@kc: There are always outliers. It’s unfortunate that there are not more of your kind available to offset the ocean of stupid.
Another Holocene Human
@A Humble Lurker: These words cause moral, psychological, and social harm. An older teenager deep in their narcissistic phase, both through ignorance (caused by adults) of history and context and a developmentally expected deficit of empathy, might be forgiven for the use of such words. As adults, we are responsible to show her the error of her ways. Too many who are old enough to know better will jump in to tell her that she should ignore the chorus of voices calling for her to stop and launch in to the hoary apologia of “reverse racism” and other such petulant self-justification for racially motivated, white supremacy-enabled bullying.
The only time a white person can use the n-word acceptably is when singing the lyrics to Oliver’s Army-and even then the white person should damn well be Elvis Costello. Otherwise….
@srv: who cares?
Mike in NC
@Villago Delenda Est: So my takeaway is that Sanford has a decent shot at getting the GOP presidential nomination in 2020.
The whiteness, it is blinding.
James E Powell
@Villago Delenda Est:
The stupidity of the people of South Carolina is confirmed
They aren’t stupid, they’re evil. Rage, fear, and bigotry are what animates the white electorate there.
@Roger Moore: hmm “reversion to the mean”, now that expression can go a few ways to explain people.
I’m going to say that, personally, I love women with generous assets in tight shorts. I love that my SO prefers boxer briefs because they hug his behind so well. I myself have been known to step out in shorts that just reach the top of my thighs, not only because I’ve been told I have a cute butt, but because my legs, while not up to the chin, are shapely.
I also love feeding trolls what they regurgitate. It’s fun to see the faces they make.
(For the record, yes, I’m bi. And Kate Dillon makes me swoon. Put her in Daisy Dukes and I’d be dead.)
Growing up, I heard the N-word quite often; then again, I grew up first in Lakeview on Chicago’s East side, and that word was tossed around a hundred times a day by bigoted whites and by blacks as well. However, I also had a mother who’d fought for years to quit saying that word herself (she was born and raised in Harlan, KY), and she let me know that that word was unacceptable for a white person to use. To help ram the point home, she let me see “Roots” when it first aired on TV. Made one hell of an impression, let me tell you.
These days, I still meet white people who think it’s horrible that they can’t use that word because “black people use it to each other all the time, so how can it hurt?” Because. It. Can. Just because an insult can be “reclaimed” by the group it was once used to oppress does not mean the members of the oppressing class get carte blanche to toss it around. And to make things worse, it’s not only the desire to seem “cool” that makes these idiots want to use the word. They want to use it to condemn black people for behaving in ways they object to. And I just want to smack their fucking heads together.
“Oh, but all it means is an ignorant, stupid person!” No, you fucking moron, it means a hell of a lot more than that. Sorry you slept through history class, but that doesn’t excuse you for being a shitty human being.
And frankly, this line of thought goes for trolls as well.
…and maybe you don’t, which is much more likely.
So what? People like Jesse Lee Peterson do that for a living, and it doesn’t absolve the people he defends.
@The Moar You Know:
Listen to folks using it with one another, and I think they look pitiful. They appear to be self-deluded and self-hating. On a road going nowhere.
I grew up – you knew if you used it against another Black person, you KNEW you were insulting them. ….that was the whole point of using the word.
@Plantsmantx: She’s not asking for absolution, she’d already apologized.
But I get it – Hannah’s black friends and sports mates are exactly the same thing Jesse Lee Peterson. So what. They don’t matter, they’re all just Uncle Toms.
So Hannah’s black allies are wrong about something they said and she did not claim.
Well, she didn’t claim that either, but let’s just stick that into the bonfire for effect.
Her life is over, but it does sound like she’s got some good friends who stick with her through the worst of times. Even if they all are Uncle Toms. She’s going to need it for her International 15 seconds of fame on youtube.
Her life isn’t over…unfortunately.
“Uncle Tom”. Eh. It’s gotten to the place where you have to put up with so many annoying people pointing out that’s it’s actually something of a misnomer, I’ve taken to using “black…white supremacist”.
I dunno. I think that for a white person having black friends, even a real, respectful, mutually protective, sincere relationship with just one black friend, will almost always make a difference. I suppose that through books and other media you can unlearn a toxic upbringing amid racism and a segregated environment. But there’s really nothing like personal friendship to cement an understanding of the races’ shared humanity. The key is whether it’s a sincere mutual friendship. It’s safe to assume that any white person who says or does something racist does not really have a black friend, whatever he claims to the contrary.