A black employment agency worker was awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages after a federal jury rejected the idea that the use of the "N-word" was culturally acceptable among blacks in the workplace.
Rob Carmona, founder of employment agency STRIVE East Harlem, leaned on what's widely considered a double standard with the N-word, claiming that black people use it in different contexts than white people, therefore making it culturally acceptable. But 38-year-old worker Brandi Johnson told jurors that being black didn't do anything for the "four-minute nigger tirade" she was subjected to by Carmona, who scolded her for inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.
The irony in someone's boss getting on them for unprofessional behavior by using the N-word is besides the point. What's important here is that the jury didn't hold up the double standard, or give this guy a pass because it was just one black person talking to another. In this case, the word is obviously inappropriate for any working environment and should compromise any professional setting, regardless of how people use it privately.
And to think Carmona, a 61-year-old recovered heroin addict who later earned a master's degree from Columbia University, defended his use of the word with his own blackness. If the jury let that slide, it'd give free reign to black bosses to use hate language based on a racial privilege. That's dangerous stuff.
A lot of people don't understand how this double standard came to be, but the sad part really is that the word became so pervasive and black folks have been called this word for so long that many have started to believe it really describes them… And with love at that. Kudos to that jury.