The truth about racial slurs isn’t so black and white despite that people may say. Words are malleable constructs of language. The dictionary doesn’t always capture the context of a statement.
Riley Cooper angrily resorting to calling black men the N-word is a clear sign of disrespect and its use in a hateful manner is reprehensible. It's not quite Julius Campbell and Gerry Bertier, but, the relationship between Detroit Lions tight end Tony Scheffler and safety Louis Delmas illustrates the gray area we operate in these days in terms of race relations.
Delmas met Scheffler when he was a freshman at Western Michigan University. Scheffler was a senior and took Delmas under his wing, but they became extremely close and now that they are veteran NFL teammates their bond is stronger than ever and somewhat controversial.
Via The Detroit News:
“Hey, cracker,” Delmas often says to Scheffler inside the Lions practice facility.
“How’s my n-----?” Scheffler replies.
Delmas is black. Scheffler is white.
Their relationship is one of the tightest bonds in the Lions dressing room, but it is a test to society. Usually whites use the term to tear down and ridicule. Most blacks use the word with an “a” at the end rather than an “er,” and it is a term of brotherhood and endearment. Scheffler and Delmas use both forms.
I understand where they both stand. It’s really not that complicated. There’s no ill will between the two. They’re just two real friends first turned co-workers who are jabbing at each other verbally as a show of love. They just happen to have different hair types as well as contrasting levels of melanin in their epidermis. The story is worth a read. Not only does it open about the relationship between Delmas and Scheffler, but it also reveals a latent divide between races in the Lions locker room.