First and foremost, I believe that Kyrie Irving is right about the “N-word.”
It’s a word that has been used to oppress and dehumanize black people in this country for so long that it cannot be reclaimed by any group of people.
If it were up to me, it would have been deleted from everyone’s vocabulary years ago.
However, it isn’t up to me, nor Irving, for that matter. We’ll never be able to control the connotations of certain words in certain communities, or how frequently those words are used. You can implement consequences for saying certain things publicly, but that’s only going to impact less than one percent of people who actually use that language.
Additionally, no community is a monolith. All members of specific demographics don’t think the same or believe the same way. So what’s offensive to me, or to Irving, may not be offensive to the next Black man. Irving was well within his right to be upset at Dennis Schroder, who is a Black man, if he felt like a personal boundary had been crossed during their game on Saturday night. Irving is allowed to stand up for himself in those situations.
Yet, what Irving should be mindful of is making grand statements about how Black people or other oppressed groups should police words. Obviously, a person of a different race should have the social awareness and integrity to not be a racist, and certainly to stay far away from saying the N-word, or else they’ll run the risk of having to severely pay for their actions in a social-media age that’s good for catching you in your mess.
But what I’m willing to admit is that the N-word and the Black community have a very complex relationship, and while I’m ready to jump with Irving and push for the word to be eradicated, I can’t speak for everyone in my community, not even my friends and family.
This is one of those things where everyone needs to find the right lane for themselves and continue driving in it. The context and history behind the word is too deep for broad, sweeping solutions.
I applaud Irving for standing up to his beliefs, but he needs to realize that he can’t make everyone believe with him.