Black leaders are supporting the Clovis Unified School District’s decision to suspend a 17-year old black student 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.”
Johnny Nelum, president of Fresno's
chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People, says he has used the "n-word" when talking to
African-American friends, but will stop using it.
"I'm as guilty as anyone, but
it still doesn't make it right. In fact, it's wrong. If we expect
other nationalities to respect us, we have to respect ourselves,"
Nelum says. "I support the school and don't think the punishment
is too harsh. You can't go halfway with the rules. Either you enforce
them or you don't."
Nathan’s mother plans to appeal
the suspension to have it removed from his record.
"Nathan is totally
upset," she says. "I'm worried about it being on his record,
and I'm worried about how he will act when he goes back to school.
Will he have to watch everything he says and who he says it
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.
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