The N-word is unacceptable from whites, but some argue it is socially acceptable within the African-American community. A recent court case challenges that double standard, arguing that it is a degrading term regardless of the race of the speaker.
In a case that gave a legal airing to the debate over use of the N-word within the African-American community, a federal jury has rejected the argument by an African-American manager that it was a term of love and endearment when he aimed it at an African-American employee.
Jurors awarded $30,000 in punitive damages Tuesday after finding last week that the manager's four-minute rant was hostile and discriminatory, and awarding $250,000 in compensatory damages.
The case against Rob Carmona and the employment agency he founded, STRIVE East Harlem, hinged on the what some see as a complex double standard surrounding the word: It's a degrading slur when uttered by whites but can be used at times with impunity between African-Americans.
But 38-year-old Brandi Johnson told jurors that his race didn't make it any less hurtful when Carmona repeatedly targeted her with the slur during a March 2012 tirade about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.
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