A jury in New York has awarded $30,000 in punitive damages to Brandi Johnson against her employer at STRIVE agency, Rob Carmona. Just last week Johnson was awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages, as well. According to Johnson, while working at STRIVE Carmona repeatedly used the N-word when speaking to Johnson, making her feel uncomfortable and embarrassed.

If a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet, would hate language, even if designed to be tough love, be just as hurtful?

As far as a federal jury in New York is concerned, the N-word — even when uttered by a black person and aimed at another black person — is just as demeaning.

The eight-person federal jury on Tuesday awarded $30,000 in punitive damages, in addition to $250,000 in compensatory damages awarded last week, to Brandi Johnson, 38, a worker at STRIVE, an East Harlem employment agency.

Johnson argued she was offended and abused by her manager, Rob Carmona, who repeatedly described her with the N-word, considered an unacceptable racial slur but sometimes used among blacks without the aura of disrespect.

“I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed,” Johnson testified, according to the Associated Press report from the courtroom.

Carmona, who founded the agency, argued that he was expressing love. In his testimony, Carmona said he used it with Johnson to convey that she was “too emotional, wrapped up in her, at least the negative aspects of human nature.”

Read more at LATimes


After all of the media attention Paula Deen received recently, what do you think about this case and the outcome? Is it OK for Black people to use the N-word? Is there ever a context where it can signify love or camaraderie? Tell us what you think!