One of you requested that I link Ta-Nehisi Coates’s blog post arguing that white people should be willing to talk about the word “nigger” and not use childish euphemisms or periphrasis when the topic comes up, ’cause black people can tell the difference between when you’re using the word and when you’re mentioning it. Myself, I like the argument and would not shy away from the word if it were necessary, say, to read a passage from Huckleberry Finn aloud. But, as I said, I’d want to make sure my auditors trusted me to be decent about it and not to quote the word just for kicks.
The first Chris Rock video there is relevant to the issue: Rock talks about the different settings in which white people feel comfortable using the word and makes some good public/private distinctions. The second Rock video is just for fun. And hey, what does Coates mean by “I’d sooner call the coroner than call my Pops ‘Billy'”?