Ask Tré


Dear Tre,

Thoughts on the use of the n-word by Hispanics and Asians, or people from low-income communities?

— Anonymous

Hello reader,

Thank you for submitting this question to me! It’s so interesting how this question keeps coming up. Well, let’s dive right in, shall we?

Let me start off by saying that I think that ANYONE who is not BLACK should not say or even think about using the n-word. Now let’s get into why. For y’all that don’t know, let me give you a real quick history lesson. The n-word we all know and love today, (and yeah I said “we all” because y’all are fiending to use it), was derived from the n-word with a “hard ‘r’” —  a word used to dehumanize my ancestors, disenfranchise my people and allow bigoted white Americans to ingrain in my people a false sense of inferiority. Now, as terrifying as that must sound, my people decided to reclaim the word and make it something positive for our community. The n-word has been reclaimed and used with an “a” instead of a hard “r.” It’s used in the black community in many different ways; it’s used as a term of endearment, a curse word and a call out in an argument. Regardless of its ambiguous meaning, however, if you are not black then don’t use the word.

“But Tre, my black friends let me say the word all the time and they don’t have a problem with it.”

Well, I think you should find some new friends. Let me explain something to all the non-black people that will read this. Being a person of color does not and never will give you the right to say the n-word. Why? Because the word does no harm to you. When I use the n-word it’s always between me and another black person, and it’s usually because we are using it as a term of endearment. Y’all wanna use the word because you think it’s cool, because you think it will make you better friends with us, or because you hear it in music. My advice is to just STOP. You don’t get to say a word that was used against us.

“Tre, if black people are so offended then why do y’all say it to each other?”

BECAUSE WE CAN! I shouldn’t have to explain to you why using a word that my people have reclaimed is okay for us to use and not for you to use. More importantly, because you can’t. I can’t speak for all black people, but I personally enjoy knowing that so much reclaimed power can be held in a word, and seeing all non-black people squirm in their seats because they want to use it so badly. Well, you can’t. Look, the point I’m trying to make here is that no matter what you say or how you feel, if you are not BLACK do not say the n-word. There are so many reasons why only black people are able to use the word (honestly too many to explain in a college newspaper column) but I hope this gives you the idea.


Tre Stephens

As always, I look forward to my readers submitting questions to my column. If you don’t know, you can submit your own questions at the go link: go/asktre/. My goal is to produce one piece every week for the entire year, so keep the questions coming.