The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

July 23, 2013

Using the N word

Herald-Banner Staff

GREENVILLE — To the editor:

Paula Dean is catching tremendous flack for using one word. Are they going too far? Is she being “brutalized” over this? Does she have it coming? Lots of commentary. Lots of opinions. You know the word. Here is my story … same subject.

My family were cotton farmers here in Texas. When a load was ready to go to the gin, Henry, an older African-American gentleman who had worked for my daddy for years would drive the wagon. That day it was pulled by a team of gentle giant mules, Mandy and Blue. I was sitting high on the cotton and called out to the driver, “Hey, N----, put me down and let me ride to the gin on Blue’s back.”

My daddy heard what I had said. He rode up beside the wagon and stopped us. Anger hardly described the stone look on his face as he addressed me, “Billie Frances, don’t you ever let me hear you call Henry by that name again! You will call him Mister Henry!! Do you understand, young lady?” (It is unlikely those were his precise words, but in essence they mean the same.) At any rate, it scared me because my daddy had never spoken to me so sternly as then.

I do not recall my daddy ever speaking to me with such anger ever again … and I have never called anyone that name ever again!

That was 79 years ago.

In God we trust,

Billie R. Stone