Would you consider this little piece of flash fiction racist? Or anti-racist?
I’m hoping it will be taken as anti-racist.
“Hey, what’s up, nigga?” Rodney walked up to Jacob, who was leaning against a pristine vintage 1964 Corvette painted a beautiful metal-flake dark blue.
Jacob smiled. “Like you don’t know, man.”
“You got a new car.”
“Yeah, check it out!” Jacob stepped back from the car so that Rodney could admire it properly. “This nigga’s got some classic wheels, man.”
Rodney ran his hand across the hood, as if he were caressing a beautiful woman’s bare skin. “Damn, it’s fine. How much did this set you back—“
“What’s up, niggers?”
The two men turned to see their friend Cory walking up to them, smiling. Without a moment’s hesitation, Jacob swung his fist, punching Cory square in the nose.
Cory staggered backward to land on his ass in the street. “Ow, fuck!”
Jacob and Rodney said nothing, just stood staring at him. Rodney looked concerned.
“Why did you hit me, man?” Cory said. He looked down at his hands, which had been covering his nose. “Look, I’m bleeding!”
“You called us niggers,” Jacob said.
“But, you call each other that!”
“We can do that, but you can’t.”
“I didn’t mean anything by it. I just said it because that’s what you guys say.”
“You can’t say it.”
“Why? Because I’m white?”
“Yes because you’re white! What the fuck were you thinking?”
“But I’m your friend.”
“If you were my friend,” Jacob said, “you wouldn’t be calling me a nigger.”
“But you guys call each other that! You call yourselves that!”
“White people don’t call black people nigger,” Jacob said.
“Friends don’t hit each other,” Cory said. “And what you’re saying is racist.”
“What I’m saying is racist?!”
“Yes! You’re excluding me from saying a word because of the color of my skin.”
Rodney took a few steps to stand beside Cory, who still sat on the pavement with his nose dribbling blood. “Cory kind of has a point,” he said to Jacob. “You shouldn’t have hit him.”
“White people are not allowed to call us niggers. People who violate this require swift and immediate discouragement.”
“But I didn’t mean anything by it,” Cory said. “I used the term in the same spirit you guys do. In the same context, even.”
“You don’t get to use that word!” Jacob yelled at him.
“I can’t use the word because it’s a racial slur, but you can. Because you’re black. That is racist. And if you don’t want people calling you that, then you need to stop calling each other that.”
Rodney held out his hand and helped Jacob to his feet. “I’m sorry he hit you, man. I know you’re our friend.”
“Thanks.” He stood up. “You know, you can call me whitey, you can call me cracker, you can call me anything you want — bastard, motherfucker, cocksucker — anything. Because we’re friends. But fuck — you never hit a friend. Look, I’ve got a nose bleed now!”
“Your ancestors were never my ancestors slaves, Cory! There’s a difference.”
“You have never been a fucking slave, and I have never been a fucking slave owner! All I’ve been to you is a friend!”
“I’m not going to say sorry, man. You don’t call us nigger. Period.”
Cory tried in vain to wipe the blood away from his nose. “Fine. Lesson learned. I’ll never say that word again.”
“That’s why I hit you,” Jacob said. “So that you’d learn that lesson.”
“Fuck.” Cory took a deep breath. “Well. Damn. It’s a really good thing I didn’t call you jigaboo.”
Jacob lunged, and Rodney had to grab him in both arms and hold tight. As they struggled, Cory turned and ran, leaving a trail of crimson red droplets to mark his path.