Well... that's what I've been taught.
But this past weekend, I spent the a day talking with two old school neighbors.
One is a developer (He's just now cutting the streets for his new gated community) and the other is a former basketball player for the 76ers (during the early seventies).
Both were friends with my grandparents.
Much of the day was spent just talking ish and eating and drinking.
But what took me aback was the usage of the word "Boy".
I didn't grow up here in the South - so words like "boy" or "gal" were not thought of as offensive.
By the time I was old enough for them to be offensive (back in Cali.) - I was out of the environment that understood the terms in a condescending manner.
"Boy" - one of the gentlemen said - as he began to lecture me.
But it's in it's intent, it depends on who is using it and why.
"Boy" in this instance means "Listen".
They told me that I was doing too much for too many people who it really wasn't going to help.
These men had come from the neighborhoods of which they were speaking.
These men still get involved in some of the charitable activities of those neighborhoods.
So I listened.
Later during the weekend, I took a young cousin with me as we installed ceiling fans in the homes of the elderly.
This is a troubled kid who was recently taken out of his mother's home by CPS.
This kid is said to lack respect for authority.
But this kid was oh so polite to every adult we'd encountered.
"Yes Ma'am", "Yes Sir", "Thank You" and "Please" would flow from his mouth as though he were a household slave.
This kid didn't lack a respect for authority - he just didn't respect those who were supposed to be in authority.
As I was giving the kid a lecture after a hard day of volunteering - the word "Boy" just slipped through my mouth.
He sat up attentively and listened.
Like Nigga'/Nigger - is it all in the intent?