Aug. 1 2012 08:54 AM

Our readers tell us what they think

Precious white-man feelings

I'm deeply disappointed and embarrassed as a San Diegan that the article about whether it's OK for white people to use the n-word got printed ["Sordid Tales," June 27]. This question has been answered a million times by so many different people. Gwyneth Paltrow didn't get a pass from a lot of the black bloggers that I follow online.

Despite the image some people have of blond surfer guys and tan California girls, San Diego is a city of many cultures. My favorite breakfast spot, Cafe 21, is run by a couple from Azerbaijan. My best friend lives near the vibrant Vietnamese community on El Cajon Boulevard. And I don't even need to go into the adoration we all have for our Mexican and Latino/a neighbors who truly make San Diego what it is.

So, with all the amazing stories that CityBeat could have published about race, specifically race in San Diego, why in the fuck do you hand the mic to a middle-aged white guy and give him a platform to talk about why he thinks it's OK for white people to use a racial slur that has been reappropriated by black people? You really dropped the ball on this one, CityBeat.

It's very shameful that an alternative newspaper relies on a cheap trick like this article to generate discussions online. There are real people with real feelings who are hurt by members of a dominant class (white people) using a re-appropriated form of a word that was used to dehumanize a nondominant class (black people.) Why was the first thought on your minds to let a white man be the one who leads this discussion? An alternative newspaper is supposed to represent the voices of people who are drowned out by society. Middle-aged white dudes, no matter how hippie or counter culture, no longer qualify as alternative.

What do the young people of color who are reading CityBeat think of this? How will it make them feel to read that CityBeat thought it was OK to give a white dude space to talk about his precious white-man feelings about why he should be allowed to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants? My guess is that it's going to make them, at the very least, uncomfortable.

Enforcing the existing cultural norm by giving a white man a legitimate platform to share his opinion on something racially charged, that no one asked his opinion about, is just so lame. Be alternative, for crying out loud.

Normandie Wilson, Talmadge

White man of privilege

To Edwin Decker: I'm disgusted and appalled by your June 27 "Sordid Tales" column and by CityBeat's decision to publish it. As a white person of privilege, you're not in a position to decide whether or not 1) a derogatory word came from neutral origins, 2) whether or not that's relevant to its use and 3) whether or not it can, will be or is ever socially acceptable to use the word. You're not a victim of the word or the acts of violence that have historically accompanied it. You've never been victimized for your race, and thus you don't get to decide whether society's going to reclaim any racial slurs.

You are privileged, you get to live your privilege every single day and your failure to acknowledge the inherent racism that comes with being a white person in the United States today and your blatant racism by writing and publishing this piece is exactly why our society continues to be plagued by a racism that leads the murder of kids like Trayvon Martin, the incarceration of every one in four young black men and stop-and-frisk policies like the NYPD's.

I appreciate the guise under which you publish your piece, a sad attempt to eradicate the power of the word, but as you are not one against who the word has been levied, you do not get to decide it's time to take away its power. And the fact that you think you do is further proof of how your position of privilege informs your relationship with race.

You can't reclaim a word if it was never yours to claim. The fact that you, a white man, would attempt to pioneer the reclaiming of this word is ironic, laughable and tragic.

Megan O'Byrne, Normal Heights

Send letters to


See all events on Wednesday, Oct 26