NY Case of Johnson vs. Carmona Takes Blacks’ Use of the N-word to Trial


Rob Carmona

By  John “Hennry” Harris

The N-word is one of the most controversial and polarizing words in the English language.  Some say there is a double standard with the word because its a degrading, racist slur if whites say it, but can be used without reproach among blacks.  The N-word, and its use, has been debated across all news markets and now it has made its way to the courtroom.

A federal judge has declared that use of the N-word, regardless of who uses it, is discriminatory in the workplace.

Brandi Johnson, a Black employment agency worker, was awarded $250,000 in punitive and compensatory damages after her boss, Rob Carmona, who is also Black,  directed an N-word filled tirade towards her about inappropriate workplace attire and unprofessional behavior.

Rob Carmona, founder of the Harlem employment agency STRIVE, says he used the N-word towards Johnson to convey love, not hate towards her.

In his testimony, Carmona said he used the N-word to convey that she was “too emotional, wrapped up in her, at least the negative aspects of human nature.” Carmona also went on to defend his use of the word by explaining that the word has “multiple contexts” in the Black and Latino communities and could indicate both love and anger.

Brandi Johnson was not feeling the love from the N-word.

“I was offended. I was hurt. I felt degraded. I felt disrespected. I was embarrassed,” Johnson testified.

After the tirade, Johnson said she went to a restroom and cried for 45 minutes.

Carmona, a Black man of Puerto Rican descent, does not view the N-word the same was Johnson.  His story sheds light on how people of the same color can have different tolerances for the word.

Carmona was raised by a single mother in a New York City housing project and found himself addicted to heroin in his teens.  Carmona was able to kick the drug habit, with the help of drug counselors who gave him “tough love and tough language”, and went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University.

Carmona founded STRIVE built on an employment model designed to help people with troubled backgrounds get into the workforce.  In a CBS “60 Minutes” news piece, the agency was described as “part boot camp, part group therapy” and claims to have helped nearly 50,000 people find work since 1984.

Johnson’s attorney, Marjorie M. Sharpe contended the use of the word was intended to offend.

“When you use the word ni**er to an African-American, no matter how many alternative definitions that you may try to substitute with the word ni**er, that is no different than calling a Hispanic by the worst possible word you can call a Hispanic, calling a homosexual male the worst possible word that you can call a homosexual male,”  Sharpe told jurors.

What is your take on the N-word?  Does context make a difference when the N-word is used ?



12 Responses to NY Case of Johnson vs. Carmona Takes Blacks’ Use of the N-word to Trial

  1. Unprofessionalisms

    Rob Carmona displayed unprofessional behavior himself by addressing an employee using the n-word. He is one to talk. Also, since he is the founder of that company, as a business owner, he should conduct himself in a more professional manner. If he had a problem with an employee, take her into his office and have a talk with her intelligently and professionally. How would he like it if someone called him a sp*k?

  2. Rappers like Jayz, Litle Wayne, and the rest of those garbage spewing punks, have made millions defiling Black people by using this word, and giving whites permission to refer to us as this filthy word, but not one of these punks would ever make a rap song that referred to Hispanics as spics, Jews as kites, Italians as guineas, wops, or dagos. Their so called rap music would be banned, and they wouldn’t have a dime. Everybody wants to use the N word, and some even loves to call themselves that because they know that the word is really meant to insult Black people, and they are not Black. You couldn’t give a guy like this guy Ray Carmona, a million dollars to call a white person a hunky, or Jayz, and Little Wayne a hundred million dollars to make a record constantly referring to the other groups mentioned above, with the demeaning names associated with their groups. Everybody wants to use the N word, because they know that there is no penalty to be paid by using it, other than a few complaints from a few disgruntled commenters here on this site. We must make anyone that publicly refer to us as this, and we can start by outlawing it’s use, and suing these filthy rappers Like Jayz, and Little Wayne when they make money using it. Did any of you know that in Germany, it is illegal to disparage Jews in any way, or even to deny that the Hollucust ever existed.

    • Sorry, I misspelled the word Holocaust. I should have used spell check, but this site would have erased what I wrote, and made me rewrite it all over again.

  3. Anyone that sensitive about being called the nmagic word will have trouble all her life in the only land that n****r is used!!!!!

  4. I am glad Ms Johnson won. No way the N-Word should be used by anyone. Nothing endearment about that word. Maybe he will discontinue the use that demeaning word. Great Job Ms Johnson.

  5. This is an awesome outcome. Anyone using that word directed towards another should be SANCTIONED MONETARILY!!! :) :D :P Hope this case becomes sited for future civil lawsuits. And may this be a lesson to those using the N word for laughs, it may just cost you! ~♥~

  6. Good for her glad she won her case,its about time some folks get taken to task for the use of this word,if it had been any other nation refered to in this derogatory manner there would be h**l to pay ,you don’t hear jews calling each other kykes,or Chinese calling each other chinks ,or Spanish spics etc,i think some of these black entertainers ought to get sued for their continuous use of the word also.

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