Now, throughout my entire life, not only have I never once enunciated the word “nigger,” for any reason, I can’t recall even having heard anyone else ever say it, aside from teenagers on the streets of Oakland using it as a sort of all-purpose greeting.
I’ve certainly never heard it used as an insult or an epithet.
Maybe I’ve been lucky, growing up in California neighborhoods where there was never any racial conflict or hostility. In my experience, the near-universal social ban on the grotesquely offensive word “nigger” had been entirely effective, since I had never encountered it used in anger or spoken by a non-black person.
And yet here I was at a picnic table having my brain repeatedly punched by one of the ugliest words in the English language.
UPDATE — Gwyneth Paltrow tweets “n-word”