SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2008        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Tyler Noel

Night of the N Word

On the night of Eric’s, my coworker, birthday we, seven of us, decided to attend a local dining establishment for some food and sprits. Most of us were over the drinking age and were drinking pretty heavily. We were at a sushi restaurant that hadin expensive sake bombers, which was the reason for the binge drinking. When it came time for the check to be paid we all felt like continuing the entertainment so we made arrangement to go to Eric’s house. More alcohol consumption was the idea that we had mind.

This fun was soon turned into dead silence with the sound of one word that came out of our coworker Bruce’s mouth. He had said the N word. This one word brought an out of control party to a screeching halt. I remember not understanding why someone would use this term in the first place, and also being scared to know that someone thought he could utter that verbal low blow and would not be held accountable for his actions. Darcei was the most upset at hearing this word, because it was a derogatory word for his race. Bruce immediately apologized for his statement, using the phrase “I didn’t mean you, just the others”. This remark was still condescending; it was horrible that he had used the word towards anyone.

The whole room at this time was trying to get the mood back to where it was before the foul word was uttered. Everyone was trying not to upset Darcei for fear of what he could have done. Darcei eventually talked to Bruce about the negativity of the word and its usage towards whomever. I remember a sense of relief when Darcei took on Bruce’s lack of competence and tried to educate him.

My coworkers and I were out for a night on the town! We had made plans later that day to all meet up for a birthday and a farewell party that was going to take place at Kyoto. This was the place that we were drinking in excess and having a great time. When it came time for us to pay the bill of the inexpensive sake bombers and sushi no one wanted this great night to end. We had all made arrangement to join Eric at his new apartment and to continue to drink and have a good time.

While in Eric’s apartment I had a sense of anxiety because of my unfamiliarity with the people that I was drinking with. I had worked with all of these people but knew nothing about how they acted outside of work. I was sitting at the dinner table with my coworker Tyler playing a drinking game that involved a lot of drinking and cards. This was a great game to get you completely inebriated in a hurry. Unfortunately Bruce was already there and was continuing his binge drinking. Bruce would slur his words and yell at people for no reason and everyone would laugh, but there was a breaking point to this laughter when Bruce shouted the n-word at the top of his lungs. This one word brought my fantastic night down to a horrible night. I am a black man who hates with a killer passion to be called this word. I tried everything in my body not to jump out of my seat and steal this hurtful man’s life from him. Everybody’s eyes surrounded me as to see what my next move would be. I am a very educated man and understand that there is a lot of negativity in Bruce’s life right now. So I decided to talk to him to try to correct his wrong. Using my words as my weapon to slay this man’s beastly ways I talked to him about the wrong and hurt of that little word. I demanded an apology from Bruce and he agreed. My only wish from our long conversation, which ended the party at Eric’s house, was that he never uses that word again. Since then I have never conversed with Bruce again, so I don’t know if he kept his word.

The sprits were flowing the entire night making loose lips slip and use a word that should have never been spoken. Bruce had been drinking the entire night in fact he was the life of the party. He unfortunately had too much and decided to use a term that he would so regret. The entire party was full of playful teasing, everyone calling each other out on the small flaws but nobody taking anything personal. That banter took a turn for the worst when a fellow colleague took a low blow with a personal term.

Before my incident there had been trouble times in America.  The strongest image of the past that I believe could have an adverse affect on every one was the O.J. Simpson trial. Although this trial had taken place long before any of us during that night knew each other, I believe it strengthened the kind of negative attention towards African Americas and helped fuel hatred with racist organizations.

The next significant incident was the incarceration of the leader of the K.K.K. This ultimately gave justice to the past. This helped deplete the wrongness of the racism and showed that the USA was cracking down on hate crime of race matters.

Mine and Darcei's view were the same in the sense that both of us
considered what Bruce said to be  wrong and very hateful. But I believed that Darcei should have been eligible to retaliate against Bruce and give the kind of justice he saw fit. Unlike mine, Darcei’s views were very different and actually very positive. His goal was to educate Bruce in his wrong doings and try to correct his spiteful words.

I believe this to be one of the most non-confrontational days of my life, even though it was filled with extreme tension. This is why I think it stuck in my head so long. Darcei’s cool demeanor kept the safety of the night intact even though it would have been agreeable to me if a bigger conflict had ensued. This is a story that concurs with the coined statement that two wrongs don’t make a right.

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