The only way a word can ever be offensive is if you choose to let it offend you.
This of course is not true in every situation. If someone calls you something in a derogatory fashion, then of course it’s going to be hurtful. Because they’re trying to verbally abuse you.
But if certain words are used in passing, to prove a point, and not directed towards any single person or group … then it’s not really anything to fuss about.
Barack Obama dropped the ‘N’ word.
It’s a term you’ll find in every other rap song. A word that gets tossed around from friend to friend in casual conversation, or in a text message. And you’ll find it 219 times in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and 48 times in To Kill a Mockingbird, two books widely considered classics of American literature.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama did not plan to use the word in the interview, which was on a podcast with a comedian, Marc Maron. But Earnest added that Obama was not surprised by the reaction.
Obama’s point was that race relations have improved markedly in America, but that the majority of people don’t necessarily understand what it means to not be racist. His example was that just by avoiding using racial slurs in public — which would be a very overt and obvious form of racism — people believe that they are being tolerant.
When, in reality, avoiding racism takes a lot more than that.
That his usage of the ‘N’ word created so much conversation clearly shows that our country is still not quite ready to have a serious conversation about the true meaning of racism. Because Obama’s point was completely ignored, and instead, people are instead wondering if his use of a racist term was, in fact, racist.
If racism still wasn’t such a slippery slope for us, then the word would have gone totally unnoticed. Plus he didn’t say it during a speech. Nor on TV. It was on a podcast — something that’s usually only reserved for people to remain entertained during their morning commute.
In fact, for people over the age of 50, the term “podcast” is probably the more confusing word to come out of the story.
Perhaps Obama, like the rest of us, is sick of hearing about racially charged incidents, and was just trying to have a conversation, man to man? For once, he dropped his politically correct guise, and just tried to make a point. And his point was completely overshadowed because we can’t get over our own insecurities about one freaking word.
It’s like trying to tell something important to a child while holding a Mr. Potato Head doll in your hand — they won’t register a word that you’re saying.
And with that, I just imagined Barack Obama delivering his 2016 State of the Union address with a Mr. Potato Head in his hand, and I absolutely cannot think of anything else anymore.