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Black student suspended for using “N-word”

Eavesdropping leads to suspension

by Amy Krause, staff writer

A 17-year old black student at Buchanan High School in Clovis, California, has been suspended for using the n-word to greet a fellow black student.

A white student “overheard” Nathan Martin, an African-American student call his friend, Maurice Ward, another African-American student the “n-word” as they greeted each other.  The white student was offended, and told school officials what he heard. 

Martin greeted his friend with a customary “Whazzup nigger?” 

Nathan says he was using “some slang, a term of familiarity with a friend.”  He and his friends often use the word with each other and claim that it is used in a “playful, friendly, and affectionate way.”

However, Rene Errotabere, the area school superintendent disagrees, “We school officials think they’re slamming each other a little bit when they’re calling each other a particular word.”

"We have two ethnic students who are calling each other words that would not be acceptable if a white student was calling them that word," he said.  "So, to be consistent, we are saying that is a racial slur no matter who speaks it, and we are taking consistent action," he said.

Rosemari Martin, the students mother believes the school district is overreacting to the incident. 

"I was trying to be real calm about it. I was thinking it would blow over, but when they said he would be suspended for two days, I totally don't agree with that," Martin said.

"I'm just hoping and praying they will change their decision. And if they don't, I at least want them to explain what he's done wrong."

Nathan believes it is a free speech issue.  "I don't think I should get in trouble. If I'm talking and someone hears it and gets offended, it's their problem. They shouldn't have been listening to our conversation," Nathan said.

© Political USA.com, 2000

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