On a 9 a.m. bike ride through North Philadelphia, Keith Spotwood stopped in front of his old stomping grounds where, for him, the N-word became “natural, depending on how you use it.”
“I grew up on that [in] Philly during the early ‘70s,” Spotwood said in front of a brick wall of the Duckery Elementary School on 16th and Diamond streets. “I went to this school right here, and it was just a way of speech.”
But Spotwood, who sat on his reddish-orange Mongoose mountain bike, took an extended pause, his lips slightly parted, when asked what makes the word inappropriate.
“It’s how you use the word n—–,” he said slowly. “There’s a difference. There’s my n—-a, and then there’s n—er, but that’s not saying the same word.”
But Spotwood said there are two people he would never say any version of the word around:
“Either way, you don’t every say that in front of your parents.”
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at email@example.com.