The first time I heard a White person utter the “n-word” was when I was in the boy scouts at summer camp. We were the only Black boy scout troop in the entire camp. One day, one of the boys in our troop was playfully tussling with a kid from another troop as boys often do. All of a sudden, we heard a White kid chanting “Fight, Fight n____ fights White!” This was in the mid 1990s and I remember the boy scout masters discussing it later. Before that time, I never heard a White person outside of a film say it in “real time”. This kid obviously learned this song from people in his family and was old enough to know better.
I didn’t hear a White person utter the “n-word” again until I went to California in 2004 to attend Film school in Ventura County. It was ironically living in California and not the South where I was reared, I experienced and witnessed the most racism in my life.
I heard a White man call a Black dude on a bus the N word. Someone sprayed the N-word in graffiti on a public bench I sat on. Local Goth kids warned me and a friend of mine about skinheads that lived in the town while walking one night. When I was at Venice Beach, me and a friend of mine witnessed two White guys making Monkey noises at a Black man who was swinging on a set of bars.
I was assumed to know where crack was, being a criminal and had a white dude in film school with me jokingly call me the “N-word” and it stung. He even assumed I had a giant penis. He was from Pennsylvania. Not anywhere in the South.
My brief adventure in Ventura County changed my point of view about California because I got to see clues to why Cali was the birthplace of the Black Panthers and the land of the Wyatts riots. The racism I experienced there was out in the open sprinkled with sunny weather, beautiful beaches and palm trees. While in Texas growing up, the racism were hidden underneath the surface, masked behind Southern hospitality and politeness.