Just how racist does a white person have to be to actively work for the better part of two years to stop saying the N-word? And just how much must that person have said the N-word to have had such difficulty NOT saying the word?
Those rhetorical questions were being addressed — but not necessarily answered — across social media after the former CEO of the Papa John’s Pizza chain said during an interview with a right-wing propaganda cable news network that it had been a struggle for him “to get rid of this N-word” in his vocabulary.
A steady stream of memes, gifs and videos flooded social media timelines mocking John Schnatter‘s apparent difficulty stopping saying the hurtful and hateful slur.
Schnatter, who was fired in 2018 for saying the racist, anti-Black term at work while on a conference call, recently spoke to the One America News Network and said he had been working for 20 months to keep the N-word out of his mouth. What Schnatter did not say, however, was how successful he’d been at it.
But we digress…
Regardless of his success (or failure) rate, Schnatter had already said enough to allow viewers a chance to properly assess how he really feels about the N-word and racism at large. Ironically enough, Schnatter’s admission that he experienced difficulties to police himself from saying the N-word speaks volumes. It suggests that the word was so deeply ingrained in his psyche that it may have even been (is?) second nature for him to use the racial epithet.
That premise is likely not far from the truth since Schnatter first drew negative attention to himself and his opinions in 2017 by condemning national anthem protests in the NFL — which was sponsored by Papa John’s — as unpatriotic symbols that “hurt” his pizza business. That controversy prompted him to step down while still remaining chairman of the board.
His white supremacist-adjacent comments were viewed by many as a rebuke of white team owners failing to control their Black athletes, who were calling attention to police brutality against African American men.
Months later, Schnatter was doing a role-play exercise on a conference call intended to prevent him from creating more public relations problems for the company when he said the N-word. At another point during the session, Schnatter recalled that during his childhood, white folks in Indiana used trucks to drag Black people to death.
Following that incident, Schnatter emerged as a hero to white supremacists. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi and white nationalist website, named Papa John’s as the official pizza of the so-called alt-right movement.
So it’s no wonder that someone entrenched in an apparent white supremacist lifestyle would have problems not saying the N-word.
But the concept of a functioning adult not being able to control the words that come out of his own mouth proved to be too much for social media cynics to ignore, prompting them to sounds off with hilarious memes, gifs and videos pointing out how ridiculous Schnatter’s premise really is. Keep reading to find a handful of examples.