NY Case Puts N-Word Use Among Blacks on Trial

Larry Neumeister, AP, September 3, 2013

In a case that gave a legal airing to the debate over use of the N-word among blacks, a federal jury has rejected a black manager’s argument that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at black employee.

Jurors were weighing punitive damages Tuesday after finding last week that the manager’s four-minute rant was hostile and discriminatory, and awarding $250,000 in compensatory damages.

The case against Rob Carmona and the employment agency he founded, STRIVE East Harlem, hinged on the what some see as a complex double standard surrounding the word: It’s a degrading slur when uttered by whites but can be used at times with impunity among blacks.

But 38-year-old Brandi Johnson told jurors that being black didn’t make it any less hurtful when Carmona repeatedly targeted her with the slur during a March 2012 tirade about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.

Johnson, who taped the remarks after her complaints about his verbal abuse were disregarded, said she fled to the restroom and cried for 45 minutes.


In closing arguments, Johnson’s attorney Marjorie M. Sharpe said Carmona’s use of the word was intended to offend “and any evidence that defendants put forth to the contrary is simply ridiculous.”


But defense lawyers said the 61-year-old Carmona, a black man of Puerto Rican descent, had a much different experience with the word. Raised by a single mother in a New York City public housing project, he became addicted to heroin in his teens and broke it with the help of drug counselors who employed tough love and tough language.

Carmona went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University before co-founding STRIVE in the 1980s. Now, most of STRIVE’s employees are black women, defense attorney Diane Krebs told jurors in her opening statement.


In his testimony, Carmona defended his use of the word, saying he used it with Johnson to convey that she was “too emotional, wrapped up in her, at least the negative aspects of human nature.”

Then he explained that the word has “multiple contexts” in the black and Latino communities, sometimes indicating anger, sometimes love.

Carmona said he might put his arm around a longtime friend in the company of another and say: “This is my nigger for 30 years.”

“That means my boy, I love him, or whatever,” he said.

He was asked if he meant to indicate love when he called Johnson the word.

“Yes, I did,” he responded.



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  • Puggg

    So now we’re officially giving power to a word?

  • Funruffian

    Does this mean that non-blacks can use the N-word with impunity as well?

    • Thor Bonham

      Not anymore according to this suit .. Yeah right , every other word out of a blacks mouth is N*-word .. Even black women .. This whole thing ridiculous ..
      BTW, I hate writing “N-word” and only do it because I have respect for Mr Taylor and AmREN, otherwise I would say the word outright, just like blacks do ..

  • dd121

    $250,000 for that? I wonder what “cracker” is worth?

    • OlderWoman

      Honkey is a racist sexual term aimed at Whites. I think it should have the most ‘suing power’.

    • ncpride

      Not a penny of course. Remember, after it was revealed by St. Skittles’ half-wit girlfriend that he referred to Zimmerman as a ‘creepy a** cracker’ ALL the black talking heads and black ‘leaders’ told us White people that ‘cracker’ is not a racial slur, and we should not view it as such. Blacks are so arrogant now, they get to tell us what to find offensive, and not. The ‘moral’ authority on race has spoken, don’t ya know?

      • BarnyL

        If ‘cracker’ is not a racial slur. Then it wouldn’t be directed exclusively at Whites.

    • GeneticsareDestiny

      Cracker is worth a negative amount of money. If you complain about a black person calling you it, you’re “white privileged” and deserve to lose your job and be blacklisted from employment forever.

      • gregCall

        “Cracker” is simply a term that means early southern pioneer or descendant of the early southern pioneers. Just because some ignorant race thinks they can give it a negative meaning just because they say so is pretty retarded, much like their belief they can change the meaning of the dreaded “N” word to mean other than what it means.

        Don” let people with the IQ’s of retards dictate the meaning of words, just laugh at their ignorance. I say that as a proud Florida cracker, who when I use the “N” word, know what it means and means it in that way.

  • bigone4u

    This case is a travesty of justice because it tells me that if I write a blog post using the n-word (which I’ve done) and a black’s feelings are hurt, then I owe her $250,000. The civil courts may very well be the next weapon used against race realists, with the goal of bankrupting all of us. This must not be allowed to stand.

    • I think the issue here was that the defendant was the plaintiff’s work supervisor. Creating a deliberately hostile work environment is quite often grounds for a lawsuit.

      • MBlanc46

        I hope that interpretation stands, because otherwise this is a very chilling restriction on free expression.

      • Aditya Vivek Barot

        In a nutshell. This has nothing to do with the racial slur per se; everything to do with the context.

        Did the supervisor create a hostile work environment by berating and degrading his employee? If being called by the racial slur was piece and parcel of such actions the the Plaintiff prevails.

  • Spartacus

    “In a case that gave a legal airing to the debate over use of the N-word
    among blacks, a federal jury has rejected a black manager’s argument
    that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at black


    Which brings us to a more important question – Can a black truly love anything other than watermelons ? Finding out the answer will probably solve the race issue once and for all.

  • Nick A Siggers

    Somebody tell Taleeb Starks he best not hire any employees.

  • Kit Ingoldby

    Always amusing when political correctness backfires like this.

  • John Smith

    “…a black manager’s argument that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at black employee.”

    ^ Rofl! He doesn’t even lie well. I’ve heard black people call each other the N word before and it’s usually right before they fight.

  • Jim Henry

    Holy cow! As a white manager, I routinely referred to my best white employees as honkie, cracker and white MF to their face. It was showing them respect. Now I can be sued? Aw man.

    • Lagerstrom

      If you’re ‘cracker of the month’ you get to park in the manager’s parking space.

  • Tarczan

    Unlike you heathens, not only have I never uttered the hated word which must not be spoken, I have never even allowed the word to be thought by my brain.

    • Freedoooom

      What word?

    • cancerous bananna

      Okay my white bretheren. What say we do a round of midnight golf.

    • Thor Bonham

      Hehehee .. You’re a goof .

    • BonusGift

      Aw, I spit out my liquid again, good one, thanks.

  • TheCogitator

    she fled to the restroom and cried for 45 minutes.

    $250,000 for 45 minutes of tears. $333,333 an hour for tears.

    Please tell me where I can get a deal like that.

    • Basketeddie

      She didn’t get all of it. Calhoun got 1/3 in legal fees.

      • Jim Henry

        Would that be Algonquin J. Calhoun. Remember him?

        • MBlanc46

          Oh yes.

    • There was a black cop or fireman – I don’t remember which – in SoCal who received a million dollar settlement because co-workers put dog food in his lunch. For a cool million, I’d eat a 50 pound bag of dry dog kibble with a smile on my face. It’d take me about six weeks. In addition to the million dollars, I’d also end up with bright eyes, strong teeth and a shiny coat: a good deal all-round!

      Unfortunately, white people rarely – if ever – get to cash in this way.

      • Whitetrashgang

        Well in order to support diversity you just might have to for free. The good thing is strong teeth and a shiny coat are there own rewards.

  • MekongDelta69

    “Johnson, who taped the remarks after her complaints about his verbal abuse were disregarded, said she fled to the restroom and cried for 45 minutes.”

    The following is the first-hand truth, whether you believe it or not. Those who grew up in the same place at the same time will know it’s true:

    Growing up in any of the boroughs of NYC in the 50s, everybody developed three traits…

    1.) Whenever someone ranked you out (insulted you), you always had to come back very quickly with a better and more stinging rankout. Therefore, everybody developed a VERY quick wit.

    2.) Everybody developed a VERY thick skin, because there was NO word (now known as those ‘evil ethnic slurs’) that we did NOT use. If you couldn’t take it, and you went ‘running to your room for 45 minutes,’ you’d be picked on forever.

    3.) You ALWAYS stood up to bullies. ALWAYS. Even if you got your ass kicked all over the schoolyard the first time. If you DIDN’T, you would get banged on every day – until you DID.

    And NOBODY (well, almost nobody) went running to their mommies or called Johnny Cochran or Gloria Alred or any of those tons of other ‘diversity’ ambulance-chasing laywers we’re ‘blessed’ with now. Because they did NOT exist back then. And if they HAD existed, and someone actually did that, you’d have been labeled a ‘rat.’ And there was nothing lower on the food chain back then. But it didn’t even enter our consciousness, because it simply didn’t exist – because the world we lived in, didn’t need it and wouldn’t have wanted it.

    It was a very different world back then – and a much better one

  • roadgeek

    Is it “hoist by his own petard”


    “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”?

  • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

    This is from STRIVE’s website:
    STRIVE is proud to partner with a host of public and private organizations whose investments in our work enable us to transform lives every day. Here, we’ve highlighted the positive effects of generous grants we’ve received this year from several of our local and national funders.
    It’s basically a money sink for public funds and private foundations (including Walmart and Starbucks) that want to greenwash their corporate images. Either way, Whitey will be paying every penny of this judgment, because NGO hustlers like Carmona owe their entire existence to the misplaced altruism of Whites.

  • 1proactive2

    This employment agency prez didn’t consider that when it comes to the lawsuit lottery, which blacks are major players, some of his kind truly have no shame. The sista found a target of opportunity and got paid. After all, racial loyalty goes just so far. Now break out the checkbook, brutha.

  • LudwigvonDrake

    Crystal Mangum chose the wrong line of work. Look at the kind of money being made off of passive listening !

  • JDInSanD

    How long before two blacks collude in this type of lawsuit lottery? One of them in a management position calls the other a word I’m not allowed to use and they split the winnings, which will be paid out by the employer.

    • BonusGift

      That thought did cross my mind; essentially we have a new scam brought to us by PC.

  • KittyAmerica

    “2012 tirade about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior”
    We all know she was dressed like a slut and talking Ebonics and he was telling her to quit acting like a n*****. It’s best in public to use “ghetto”as a synonym; everyone knows what it means w/o using the n-word.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    I can no longer keep up! For some, like rappers, filmakers and comedians, the n-word is worth millions, others use it once years ago and it costs them their careers.

    But it doesn’t matter now, we are a lawless nation.


  • John Smith

    But then they start drinking and doing drugs and that’s kerosene with unsocialized bucks. The match usually comes in the form of drama over a female, an unpaid debt, some old beef that was supposed to be squashed, or a put down. In my observations, when they aren’t fighting their enemies they’re fighting each other.

  • Lagerstrom

    I wish someone would call me a ‘name’ at work, then I can take offense if I wish, then collect a cool quarter of a million because my feelings were hurt. No pain, nothing.
    Then again, I’d be a complete a**hole if I did that, wouldn’t I?

    • Aditya Vivek Barot

      I have longed for that day, my friend. Unfortunately, the only people that would use a racial slur against me are the kind that have no money. And, of course, during any trial, they’d introduce comments like these into evidence, turning me into Rascisthomophobenativistwhitespremacistbigot who should die.

  • Lagerstrom

    She did cry. For 45 minutes, (she must have a stopwatch) she wouldn’t lie…would she?

  • Keep Honkin I’m Reloading

    I’m filing a class action against Jay Z… who’s in?

    • Jim Henry

      I’m in. I will contact you once I finish crying. It could take awhile since I am so, so stressed out.

  • Thor Bonham

    This is a joke, right ? WOW !!!
    Johnson, who taped the remarks after her complaints about his verbal
    abuse were disregarded, said she fled to the restroom and cried for 45
    You can’t make this s#!t up .. I’m totally dumbfounded …

  • MBlanc46

    I believe that’s a false distinction. The “a” or “ah” ending is merely a southernism, as in sugah for sugar. It’s the same word, but said with a different accent.

    • Thor Bonham

      Agreed, but they like to claim this anyway ..

      This way here they can get away with murder ..

    • GeneticsareDestiny

      Is it? I’ve heard blacks here in Minnesota say it the two different ways too. But that does make sense.

      • MBlanc46

        Claiming that there are different words is just a pathetic attempt to justify blacks’ abundant use of the word while making it a cardinal sin for whites.

  • BarnyL

    “…it was a term of love and endearment….” Doesn’t everyone use it that way?

  • BonusGift

    That’s my take too, and that’s how I use it.

  • BonusGift

    South Africans use the word kaffir. Are any of the words meant to be positive? That’s mostly a rhetorical question as I don’t know of any that are just meant in jest or positively.

  • BarnyL

    Crying all the way to the bank.

  • blindsticks

    It’s going to be really funny seeing all these low rent blacks suddenly suing the baggy pants off of one and other in hope of compensayshun. For it’s true enough – they do tend to use the ‘N’ word as a term of endearment. .

  • Evette Coutier

    I have a plan. I call you a honkey at work, you sue our employer, and we split the settlement. We could get rich.

  • evilsandmich

    They’re already in jail 😉