Netflix Chief Communications officer Jonathan Friedland, second from the left.

Netflix Fires Chief Communications Officer After He Repeatedly Used a Racist Slur at Work

Plus, a FAQ on when it's okay for white folks to use the n-word. SPOILER ALERT: it's never!
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[Netflix Chief Communications officer Jonathan Friedland, second from the left.]

Netflix has fired their Chief Communications Officer Jonathan Friedland, after Friedland used the N-word in a meeting with other staffers. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings released a memo about the firing, saying “Jonathan contributed greatly in many areas, but his descriptive use of the N-word on at least two occasions at work showed unacceptably low racial awareness and sensitivity and is not in line with our values as a company.”

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Friedland had used the word during a meeting on (ironically) offensive language in comedy. He then used it again in an HR meeting with two Black employees over his first usage of the word in the workplace. Friedland took to Twitter to apologize for the incidents.

To his credit, Hastings’ memo was more thoughtful than most CEOs would be, and is worth reading in its entirety. But the question remains: why did he wait so long to fire Friedland? And furthermore, what kind of communications executive thinks this word is okay to say at all, let alone twice?! His job is literally to stop people from saying stupid and offensive things.

To my fellow white people, let’s have a talk. It’s never okay to use the N-word. Never. Ever. Don’t do it. Confused? I made a FAQ to answer any and all N-word related questions for your convenience.

Can I say the n-word if I’m using it the way that Black people use it, as a reclamation?


Can I say it if I donated a million dollars to Barack Obama’s campaign?


Okay, but what if I’m at a karaoke bar and we’re singing Kanye West’s “Gold Digger”?

Still no.

How about this: I’m listening to rap music in my car alone and all the windows are rolled up. Can I say it then?

I’d rather you didn’t.

But I have so many Black friends though.

Cool story, you still can’t say it.

Okay, picture this: I’m on a remote desert island. Not another living soul for miles. I must use my wits, my instincts, and an endless supply of coconuts to survive. I renounce my name. I renounce my selfhood. Can I say the n-word now?

Sorry, it’s still a no.

Greetings, I am Fyaral, Son of Gathnard, Keeper of the Flame. I have traveled across time and space to your earthly realm. I can control the movements of the winds, and call on my animal brethren to join me in glorious battle. Can I say the n-word just like, one time?

Sorry Fyarl, it’s not happening.

But I can still say “my nizzle” right?

Please stop talking forever.

(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.