Sherri Shepherd Explains Why She Uses the N-Word

21 comments
January 23, 2012 ‐ By

Many questioned Sherri Shepherd when she said she feels it’s OK for black people to use the n-word and not white people on an episode of “The View” in October when Rick Perry’s controversial camp name was brought up as a hot topic.

Since then, Sherri hasn’t been able to fully explain her stance on the issue amongst a slew of backlash, but she recently spoke to Essence.com to give more insight on why she sees the word in black and white. Here’s what she said:

“That word brings up so many issues with everybody. I have Black friends who hate the word and don’t want it used. I respect those friends, and I don’t use the word around them. However, this is a word that was in my family. When my uncle played dominos and spades, I heard it used in the utmost of affection. My mother used this word with my father, and my cousin used to say it at our family reunions. I also heard it when I moved to the suburbs in Chicago, and it was used very negatively towards me by White people. To hear a White person say it just brings back those negative feelings.

“On the other hand, it was used in a positive way at home when I was growing up. How can it be positive? The power was taken out of the word, and I know where it comes from. I respect Richard Pryor for deciding not to use it after he returned from his trip to Africa. For me, this word was just It was very hard for me to articulate just what I hear when different people use it. Then again, I probably need to take a closer look at it too. When I was younger, there was a clear line on who could use that word and who couldn’t. It’s gotten really blurred today with the young kids, Black and White, who buy the rap music.”

Sherri says she also knows when it’s “appropriate” to use the controversial word and when it’s not.

“Do I use it around my son? No. He has no filter and everything mommy says he repeats. I personally don’t want him going to school and saying it. It is something I call Sal (husband Lamar Sally). That’s our word and I know he loves me with everything he’s got. I know that may make some people mad. Some lady tweeted me, ‘You sent Black people back 400 years.’ I tweeted her back, ‘If my saying I don’t have a problem using the word set us back 400 years, you got some deeper issues than that.’  I’m not taking that on me.”

I don’t think Sherri is alone in her experience with the n-word and how you can become desensitized to it’s ugly past when it’s used so commonly. But then again, that’s the very argument people have against it’s use in everyday language and rap lyrics.

What do you think about Sherri’s use of the n-word? Can you relate? What’s your stance on the word for white and black people?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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  • http://twitter.com/J_SmoothBiebah 173 days!

    I completely agree with her. Black people say it all the time to one another, BUT if you any non-black person says the ‘n’ word, all hell breaks loose. For us (i’m African American by the way), when we use that word, we mean it in a friendly way….it’s like other people saying “dude” or “bro”. However, if a white person called me that name, I would definitely be offended and most likely fight back. I do understand why some African Americans would not say it though. I admire and respect Sherri.

  • Pingback: Sherri Shepherd On When She Uses The “N” Word | Old School 94.5

  • Tbrott

    I’m white .I have a racial mixed family, I don’t like the n-word ,because it just sounds nasty and I  think it degrades people, because I sure in the hell wouldn’t want to be called a cracker either!

  • Elegance

    Maybe this is a big difference between non-African Americans. My parents are from the Caribbean and they never used that word. I hate it. I don’t think anyone should be proud about using racial slurs or curse words around the house. 

    Why can’t we just hold ourselves to a higher standard for once. Why can’t we decide to be better than everyone else and always address each other with respect? Why is it that Black people embrace foul language, coming from “the hood”, and “being down” instead of trying to appear the best they can? Seriously…if my parents were always cursing at each other I wouldn’t look at that as a good example! I would do better!

  • http://twitter.com/thescoop1 H. Lewis Smith

    Sherri Shepherd clearly
    having grown up in an environment that used the word as common language seems
    to have become desensitized to the term and ignorantly use it not understanding
    that she is foolishly carrying out an on-going 400-year-old mind control
    scheme. Just because she has heard its use throughout her life doesn’t make use
    of the term right nor does it downplay or eradicate its effects. Similarly,
    just because one grows up in the house with an alcoholic parent, then as an
    adult they drink alcohol their whole life—picking up the habit from their
    parent—doesn’t make the activity right nor does it downplay its effects—one
    will still end up with cirrhosis of the liver and die.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/R36LEVKDOP45QUQCM5H23Q45KY Sean H

    I feel like this, who cares who’s saying it. Cause if whites are using it, trust and believe they won’t be saying it around a whole bunch of black folks. More like in the comfort of their own homes. Who cares? It is a word. People need to grow up. If you use it, use it if not then don’t. Move along, nothing to see here….

    • LillyMunster

      Is that what you’ll tell your grandkids when they come home crying after being called that word, move along?

    • LillyMunster

      Is that what you’ll tell your grandkids when they come home crying after being called that word, move along?

  • Prissy

    She is a flippin idiot and I hate to see her on “The View”. While Elizabeth also gets on my nerves, at least she has SOME valid points. Sherri ALWAYS talks out of her behind and then Joy and/or Whoopi have to get her together! She didn’t even have an EDUCATED reason why Barbra Walters couldn’t report on the word. Because that is what happened during the episode. Barbra was REPORTING about someone else who said the word and Sherri had nerve to come at her like she was saying it racist. Sherri needs to go sit down. Her reasons for wanting to first vote for Sarah Palin 08 election first before she switched it up to President Obama was dumb as well. She needs to get off of that show. It pains me because I LOVE Whoopi and Joy *sigh* 

    • LillyMunster

      I can’t stand Sherri either. Even in her movie roles she always plays a dumb ass, similar to herself. Why she is ever asked to express her opinion is beyond me because she seems so uneducated. How does a grown ass woman tell a television audience that she’s not sure if the world is round, not flat? As far as the N word, I don’t use it & correct people who do. If your vocabulary is so limited that you have to use that degrading word, pick up a dictionary and learn something new.

    • LillyMunster

      I can’t stand Sherri either. Even in her movie roles she always plays a dumb ass, similar to herself. Why she is ever asked to express her opinion is beyond me because she seems so uneducated. How does a grown ass woman tell a television audience that she’s not sure if the world is round, not flat? As far as the N word, I don’t use it & correct people who do. If your vocabulary is so limited that you have to use that degrading word, pick up a dictionary and learn something new.

    • LillyMunster

      I can’t stand Sherri either. Even in her movie roles she always plays a dumb ass, similar to herself. Why she is ever asked to express her opinion is beyond me because she seems so uneducated. How does a grown ass woman tell a television audience that she’s not sure if the world is round, not flat? As far as the N word, I don’t use it & correct people who do. If your vocabulary is so limited that you have to use that degrading word, pick up a dictionary and learn something new.

    • LillyMunster

      I can’t stand Sherri either. Even in her movie roles she always plays a dumb ass, similar to herself. Why she is ever asked to express her opinion is beyond me because she seems so uneducated. How does a grown ass woman tell a television audience that she’s not sure if the world is round, not flat? As far as the N word, I don’t use it & correct people who do. If your vocabulary is so limited that you have to use that degrading word, pick up a dictionary and learn something new.

    • LillyMunster

      I can’t stand Sherri either. Even in her movie roles she always plays a dumb ass, similar to herself. Why she is ever asked to express her opinion is beyond me because she seems so uneducated. How does a grown ass woman tell a television audience that she’s not sure if the world is round, not flat? As far as the N word, I don’t use it & correct people who do. If your vocabulary is so limited that you have to use that degrading word, pick up a dictionary and learn something new.

    • LillyMunster

      I can’t stand Sherri either. Even in her movie roles she always plays a dumb ass, similar to herself. Why she is ever asked to express her opinion is beyond me because she seems so uneducated. How does a grown ass woman tell a television audience that she’s not sure if the world is round, not flat? As far as the N word, I don’t use it & correct people who do. If your vocabulary is so limited that you have to use that degrading word, pick up a dictionary and learn something new.

  • http://twitter.com/1PrincessGrace nancy

    the minute you give a reason to/not to use it is the same time you validate it. Rights are either distributed equally or not

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  • tastythoughts

    its one of those things….u either use it or you dont….i use it on and off…its just like profanity…u gotta know when to use it. 

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  • Deowna

    I empathize with Sherri because I know how we use the word in my home. (My husband and I) Never is it used as a racial slur. It is used in a jokingly way, at the card table, at BBQs, and only around adults. If you understand the history of it and it doesn’t make you uncomfortable, do what you like to do as long as you’re not offending anyone.

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