Oprah and the n-word

Photo via Parade magazine

In a recent interview with Parade magazine in support of the upcoming film Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels, and Forrest Whitaker took a little time to chat about race, the civil rights movement, and the film.

During their chat, the trio began discussing the n-word, and Oprah took a firm stance against it.

Although The Butler director Lee Daniels said he used the n-word quite often, he nixed it from his vocabulary after getting a lecture from Oprah.

“It’s a word I used quite a bit, until Oprah sat me down and talked to me about its power,” he admitted.

Winfrey chimed in, “You cannot be my friend and use that word around me. It shows my age, but I feel strongly about it. … I always think of the millions of people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.”

Whitaker echoed Oprah’s sentiments. “I don’t use the word. Never did.”

While many have tried to “reclaim” the word and use it frequently, others—like Oprah and Whitaker—refuse to accept its use.

What’s interesting to me about Oprah’s decision to not let the word be spoken around her are her close ties to folks who use it freely, like Jay-Z.

In the past, Oprah has gushed about her friendship with Jigga, interviewing him for her magazine, and profiling him for her  Master Class series. Oprah has spoken highly of Jay’s ability transform himself from former drug dealer to legit (and quite paid) businessman. Oprah loves Jay’s swag, his determination, and his thoughtfulness, but I assume she doesn’t love his continued use of the n-word.

I wonder if Oprah gave Jay-Z (or 50 Cent or Usher or LLCoolJ) the same talking to she gave Daniels…or if she ever would.

How about you? Do you stop others from saying the n-word around you? Would you? Sound off! 

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