As you know, I strongly disapprove of use of the “N” word in the workplace. I don’t think African-Americans should say it, and I really, really don’t think people who aren’t African-American should use it.
Well, this weekend President Obama used the “N” word, and he didn’t say “the ‘N’ word.” In a podcast interview with comedian Marc Maron, the President was quoted as saying,
Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.
OK, I get his point, and the overall message was a good one. But now, how am I supposed to tell employees in harassment training that they can’t use the word?
Here is my new rule, effective June 22, 2015 (the date that the Obama podcast was released):
It is all right to use the “N” word at work if, and only if, (1) you are African-American, and (2) you are the President of the United States.
Everybody else, please refrain.
(Here’s a link in case you’d like to listen to the whole interview.)