Sherri Shepherd Explains Why She Uses the N-Word

January 23, 2012  |  

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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