A lot of discussion of racism these days centers upon politics at the highest level, institutionalized racist norms, and white supremacist violence. But individual racism is still alive and well in America.
That is what a black student discovered when her roommate accidentally sent a text message to her that was about her.
It featured an appalling use of the n-word. But the white student who sent it is desperately claiming that autocorrect is to blame.
This deeply unsettling story begins with a pleasant if somewhat anxious exchange via text messages.
"Hey Courtney! My name is Nwamaka," the blue text bubbles say. "I wanted to introduce myself since I am going to be your new roommate."
"Hey!" Courtney replies. "Did you just call me? So sorry lol my phone is on silent."
Some people have their phones making noise all of the time and . . . I'm not sure how they stand it. That said, Courtney may have just been uncomfortable answering an unexpected call.
Nwamaka explains: "It was an accident!"
"Haha it's all good," Courtney replies. "I went to add you as a contact and I accidentally called you too."
That is all well and good ... until the next gray text bubble from Courtney.
"Her insta looks pretty normal," Courtney writes. "Not too n-----ish."
Yes, that was her using the n-word. With -ish as a suffix. We wish that she were saying needlefish or something, but no.
"OMG I am so sorry!" Courtney immediately wrote. "Holy crap."
"Damn spell check," Courtney says, blaming her phone's autocorrect function for conjuring the literal worst word in the English language. "I did NOT mean to say that."
Courtney then attempts to assure Nwamaka that she totally didn't write the n-word.
"I was texting Hannah and I meant to say 'triggerish,'" she claims.
Triggerish is, notably, not a word. People use new words all of the time (I say yeet at least three times a week), but it's difficult to see how anything else makes sense in this sentence.
"Meaning like you seem really cool," Courtney pleads. "Nothing that triggered a red flag."
Uh, we sort of see that. Though there's a huge hole in this argument still.
Courtney then says: "I am so embarrassed! I apologize."
It was not Nwamaka who made the screencaps of their conversation go viral. That was her friend, Dajah Morrison, who was outraged over the texts that her friend received.
"Triggerish is not a word at all," Dahah told WSAV. "The closest word to that is triggerfish. So for her to cover those things up, it just didn't add up."
Many have pointed out that there's another layer to Courtney's words.
Have you ever tried to write the word f--k on a phone for the past few years? Android or iPhone, it doesn't matter.
Your phone is going to try to turn your word into duck. People commenting on this story have noted that, though they've had their share of autocorrect embarrassments, they've never seen the phone "correct" to a slur.
A lot of autocomplete or autocorrect style programs learn based upon a person's writing habits. Some have said that, at best, Courtney is suggesting that she uses the n-word a lot in other conversations.
Which is ... not much better.
As you can see in the attached image, Georgia Southern released a statement apologizing for the incident.
"The use of such racist comments is offensive and unacceptable and in no way reflects the attitudes or values of Georgia Southern University," the letter says.
The statement continues: "To be clear, there is no place for bigotry or racism on our campuses."
There is no mention of any disciplinary action being taken towards Courtney over her allegedly accidental slur.
For the rest of us, this is a great time to remember that those of us who are not black should not use the n-word. Not ending with an -er or with an -a.
Not in text messages. Not in conversation. Not on political signs. And no, not even when we're singing along with music.