Life Advice



Ask Amy: A man’s choice to use a slur riles the family

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: At the end of an extremely long road trip, my fiancée, her 16-year-old son and I stopped at a noisy sports bar at 9:30 p.m. – famished.

As we waited for our food, I saw an article regarding a woman who was recently fired for using a slang variant of “the N-word.”

I turned to my fiancée to recount the story, but instead of using the variant of the word I saw in the article, I leaned in and in a very low voice said the actual (offensive) word to her, never intending for her son to hear it.

When we got into the car, her son vehemently questioned why I had used the word. I was stunned. His tone and aggression were totally disproportionate to my action. I got angry because of his tone and told them.

My fiancée sided with her son.

She said his tone was justified by my saying the word in his presence (we are all Northern European, by the way).


I am a politically progressive American who has supported many Black candidates, worked for voting rights, and have many Black friends.

My fiancée has asked that I move back to my own house for an uncertain duration.

I have apologized for getting angry, but my fiancée says that the problem was that I didn't respect her son for standing up for his beliefs. She believes that I should have just apologized and ignored his tone.

Your thoughts?


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