HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Earlier this week, one of the owners of the Pho Shack in Sugar Land and Katy, Dan Le, apparently accepted his general manager's resignation. That manager was a black female.
Le took it a step further in his group chat saying "F- that N-", he also called her a B-word. After the manager, Domo Schneckenburg, exposed his message on Facebook, Le issued a public apology while also resigning from his family owned business. What was interesting in his letter of resignation was this line:
He went on to say:
Minority groups who constantly use the N-word, whose fault is it?
"In the growing affirmation of black power and consciousness, there seems to be a move to affiliate oneself with the community by embracing this term," says Dr. Vida Robertson, an English professor with the University of Houston-Downtown. "Unfortunately, this term is irredeemable, it's steeped in hate."
Not everyone agrees with this interpretation. Many dismiss it as a term of endearment.
"Before you use it, try to get an understanding of what the term really means," says Deric Muhammad, community activist. "Words are free, but the way you use words will cost you."
Today's youth is exposed to the term through modern music and frequent use.
"There's only an illusion of power," says Dr. Robertson. "They see that if in popular culture and music, they're using the term, then I can be as powerful as they are."
"We have to teach the younger generation the power of words," says Muhammad. "If I call you 'brother', or 'sister, 'king' or 'queen', I'm setting an expectation and giving you something to live up to. If you refer to your brother as an 'N-word', don't be surprised when you get that behavior in return."
Many came to the defense of the owner of the Pho Shack, including members of many other minority groups. Ultimately, there is a deep history behind the term that has caused such a stir.
"There's no way to make a positive out of word that has such a destructive history," Muhammad said.