A teacher at Spokane's Shadle Park High School alarmed her students recently by using the "N word" in class.

What Happened?

As first reported by KXLY-TV's News 4 Now, teacher Sarah Jane O’Regan used the racial slur in her classroom.

It's unclear what was being discussed when O'Regan used the racially insensitive term.

How Do We Know?

There's recorded video of the aftermath of the incident, where O'Regan attempts to justify what she said, saying it wasn't bad because she used a soft "n" and didn't use the hard "R" at the end.

Most of polite society agrees that there is no correct way to use the "N' word. In a school setting, or anywhere else. Especially if your skin color is white.

As a student is heard stating in the video, you don't have to say it to make your point.

Like the "F word," or "F-bomb," you can just use the phrase, "the N word" if you are discussing the term in an appropriate context. Your audience will know exactly what you are referring to.

But just to be clear, I don't know if school curriculums address use of the N word in lessons or not.

Why is the "N Word" Offensive?

The "N word" goes back to the beginnings of slavery, and the racist idea that Africans brought to America by ship were less than human; a commodity to be bought and sold. Or raped. Or killed.

The word was used not only to inflate white slave owners' sense of importance, but to make slaves feel inferior; worthless.

Deck Of A Slave Ship
Getty Images

And for a long time, that monstrous behavior was normalized by white society. Even more damaging, perhaps, is that many slaves believed it about themselves.

In other words, the reason the "N word" even exists is to cause hurt to someone's feelings, their self-esteem, and how society views them.

So, why would you want to speak it?

What About Music That Uses the N Word?

Personally, I don't think it should be used. It sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. But last time I looked, my skin was white. So, I don't have a say in a debate that is best conducted in the black community.

What's Next for the Teacher?

The school district is investigating the incident involving Spokane teacher Sarah Jane O’Regan and her use of the "N word" in her Shadle Park High School classroom.

Some parents and students think she should be fired, or "cancelled."

When a similar incident occurred in Georgia, the teacher was suspended.

And when the "N word" was used in a Baltimore classroom, the instructor was fired.

Personally, I believe in counsel culture, whereby people can learn from their mistakes. If they are willing to admit their behavior was wrong, and make earnest efforts to grow, and do better in the future.

One thing is certain... If teacher Sarah Jane O’Regan is allowed to keep teaching at Shadle Park, she will have a big challenge going forward: winning back the respect of her students.

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