Skip to main content

When is it ever OK to call the President the n-word?

By Crystal Wright
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Tue July 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Crystal Wright says the use of the n-word to describe the President was reprehensible
  • An 86 year-old writer used the term in a recent headline in a New York newspaper
  • In 1977, Wright's family was refused admission into an all-white country club

Editor's note: Crystal Wright is a conservative writer who runs the blog ConservativeBlackChick.com. She also is a principal at the Baker Wright Group, a communications and public relations firm. You can follow her on Twitter @GOPBlackChick. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died so blacks would no longer be viewed as inferior but rather enjoy the same inherent rights given to whites in America.

Yet in 2014, 50 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the West View News thinks it's appropriate to publish a story about our first black president, Barack Obama, with the headline, "The Nigger in the White House."

Oh, the times we are living in.

All I could do was feel sick to my stomach when I read the headline that the monthly newspaper serving Manhattan's Lower West Side published. And it brought up the pain my family went through nearly four decades ago.

Not only is the word reprehensible but also why would an editor of a newspaper use the n-word in a headline about America's first black president?

Crystal Wright
Crystal Wright

As a black woman who is a dogged critic of Obama's policies and his presidency and also happens to be the daughter of parents who grew up in the segregated South and were called that word, I find the headline disgusting and reprehensible to say about the nation's first black President, even if the author claimed he was actually writing in support of the President.

The article, written by an 86-year-old white man, James Lincoln Collier, supports Obama, noting, "far right voters hate Obama because he is black."

"That was the whole point in this, that a great many people in the United States continue to think of President Obama as the n****r, and I wanted to make that point, that there's a substantial amount of racism still existing in the United States," Collier told CNN's Don Lemon on Monday.

I guess Collier could be a liberal but in his heart still feels it is OK to use that word to describe Obama. Clearly, no political party owns racism and that's just the problem.

For the record, I don't think it's OK for blacks to call each other the word either or for so-called black hip-hop artists to lace their music with the word like they're saying the "hello."

Paper calls Obama 'n-word' in headline
Newspaper drops George Will column
Sterling, Bieber and racism: Who pays?

Still, despite all the major achievements of blacks before and since the Civil Rights movement, most notably the attaining the highest office in the land, many whites in this country have a deep-seated hatred toward blacks and will never view us as equal. They even think they are complimenting us when they call us that word. And at the end of the day, that's all we're considered, no matter what we do or accomplish.

In a pathetic attempt to defend using the headline, the West View News' editor, George Capsis, told the New York Post:

"In this article, however, Jim reminded me that The New York Times avoids using the word which convinced me that West View should."

Capsis defends his decision as wanting to be provocative and "out do" the Times. I think it's more plain that. It seems the only way Capsis thought to praise a black President was to use a racist word to disparage him.

The entire incident shows how far America has to yet to go in race relations. Remember, this is 2014.

Not 1977. That's when I was just a child and my parents had to sue the Salisbury Country Club in Chesterfield, Virginia, suburb of Richmond, Virginia, for denying them membership a private club in our neighborhood only because we were black.

It was then I learned about racism, specifically, that no matter what, some white people just hate black people for no other reason than the color of their skin.

My father (Dr. Thomas Wright Jr., an accomplished dentist) and mother (Barbara B. Wright) had moved into their dream home they had spent a year building and applied for membership to the club their kids could ride their bikes to and learn how to swim and play tennis.

But in the summer of 1977, the club's all-white board of directors voted to reject my parents' membership application. The all-white board also rejected the family of NFL all-pro star Willie Lanier. The club had no black members and no white applicant had ever been denied membership to the club.

Part of the reason my parents built a home in Salisbury was because the real estate developers of the subdivision advertised homeowners could enjoy club membership. They just failed to mention it was a perk available to "white-only homeowners."

After my parents got rejected, one of the co-developers, J. Kenneth Timmons, sent a letter to the Salisbury Country Club board of directors congratulating them on a job well-done and told them to "continue to act in the same responsible way," according to June 5, 1980, Richmond Times-Dispatch article "Club Fight Tires Black Dentist."

Like the author in the West View News, Timmons didn't use the n-word to refer to my parents in the body of his letter. But he may as well have because that's how he viewed them.

After a lower court ruled against my parents, they appealed to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously ruled on September 30, 1980, my parents had been discriminated against.

My parents never joined the club. It wasn't about the membership. It was about respect and teaching their three children about doing what was right and "responsible."

Just before the ruling was handed down, my father was quoted saying:

"You can't believe it's 1980, and they're still doing this thing."

Sadly, it's 2014 and Dad, they're still doing the same thing, only this time to the President of the United States.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:25 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
updated 6:29 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
updated 8:34 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 10:13 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT