So What Should I Do If My White Friend Uses the N-Word?

Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel's column devoted to dealing with the valuable people in your life who you're not humping. Got an issue and looking for guidance? Email friendzone@jezebel.com.

I recently set a sweet new friend up with one of my best male friends. Shortly after they went out for the first time, he told me that she had casually used the N-word (she's white) several times on the date. He didn't tell me what she said exactly, just that she had used the word. I know it made him uncomfortable and it certainly makes me uncomfortable. Part of me wants to just cut off the friendship now, but another part of me feels like this is hasty. She's from the South and somewhat younger than I am (not excuses, but perhaps explanations) and maybe would benefit from just having someone sit down and tell her that it is in no way okay to talk like that.

It is definitely not okay for your sweet little white Southern belle friend to use this racial epithet. It's a nasty, mean-spirited word with an ugly history. And before the "well, but context" folks jump in – I sincerely doubt she was using it in some nuanced attempt at thoughtful rhetorical analysis or brilliant satire. She was probably just getting sloshed on frozen margz at Friday's and letting her rebel flag fly.

If you really and truly think she's a wonderful person who simply doesn't know any better (which is literally impossible for an adult human being in the United States in the year 2013, but whatever), ask her if she really said these things. If she denies it, that's another dilemma entirely. So let's just assume she says, "Yes, I did say that word, ha ha ha, ZOMG I was so drunk" or "Yes, I did say that word, what's the problem?"

Explain to her in no uncertain terms exactly what the problem is. You do not need to be nasty. You do not need to be unkind. You do need to school her ass in what's appropriate and what isn't. Some folks just weren't raised right, and some helpful re-parenting by a more evolved friend can do wonders. If she gets it and vows to change her ways, great. If she doesn't get it, decide whether or not you want to be friends with somebody who holds her views. Either way, maybe don't set her up on any more dates. We're on the second decade of the Willennium, and this lady needs to shape the fuck up.

One of my good friends is terribly competitive. In our ten year friendship I've learned to just let her backhanded comments slide. When she makes particularly sharp remarks I try and remind myself that she comes from a pretty troubled family that always put her down. Deep down I know she is a good friend but now that she is dating my long-term boyfriend's brother, I'm having trouble dealing with her increasingly "mean girl" tendencies towards me. She is determined to win all the love and affection from my boyfriend's family even at the cost of our friendship. She is always one-upping me at family functions. I'm sick of her embarrassing me in front of my boyfriend's parents and trying to make me look bad. How to I get her to calm down and realize it's not a competition?

She doesn't sound like a very good friend to me. In fact, she sounds downright nasty. I suggest you downgrade her in your mind from "friend" to "acquaintance" and treat her as such. Be polite, but don't engage in her emotional games or creepy manipulative schemes. Do not make an effort to hang out with her unless it's absolutely required. Your boyfriend's family loves you for you, and that won't change so long as you continue to be a good person and behave with dignity and honor.

You'll note I didn't recommend you address this issue head-on with her. That's because I think she's probably the type to use whatever you say against you. She'll want to paint herself as the victim. Don't give her the pleasure.

And as for the fact that she comes from a family with issues – who the fuck doesn't? You've made excuses for her long enough. She is an evil alien; you are noble Will Smith. This is your Independence Day.

My female friend started dating this great guy a few months ago. He is totally rad and gets along like gangbusters with our group of friends. At this point, all of us contact him instead of her when we're trying to hang out, in part because he's better at responding but in part because he's awesome. The issue is, she has always been a bit of an emotional wreck, and he is always the one who needs to clean up after her. This issue recently has been getting on his last nerve, and their relationship is going downhill fast. Can we as a friend group maintain a relationship with him if they break up? This would be less of a problem if she weren't such a drama queen, but I feel like she will flip out if we don't "choose her" in the breakup.

This isn't a group decision. It's up to each individual in your circle of pals to decide how he or she feels about Boyfriend and Girlfriend. And uh, do you, personally, even like the girl in this situation? You sound all gaga about Boyfriend but totally irritated and bored with Girlfriend. If that's the case, it seems natural that you would make more of an effort to hang out with him rather than her, regardless of whether they break up or not. Of course it will hurt her feelings if you very obviously "choose" him over her, but again, I'm not getting the vibe you even like this chick. Don't waste her time or your own time by feigning friendly feelings you don't really possess. Focus on more important things, like bouncin' in the club where the heat is on, all night on the beach 'til the break of dawn.

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