I have a referral source for legal business who happens to be a partner at one of the biggest Wall Street law firms–I handle almost all of his Boston mutual fund issues. Oddly enough, we’ve worked together for nearly 20 years and yet we’ve never managed to meet face to face. Every year, he and his family take the most unbelievable vacations, and he’s been almost everywhere on the planet. I happened to ask him on Monday where he was going this summer, and he told me he was going to rural South Carolina. Why, I asked him, was he doing that. Well, he told me, they were having a huge family reunion for his grandmother’s birthday (100) and he had to cancel a trip to somewhere else. then he said, “this year, I have to be the good nigger.” He must have realized that my pause was significant, because he added “you know from our firm web page that I’m black, right.” Well, actually, I didn’t, and, frankly, it had never occurred to me to check his web page to ascertain his race. I’m not sure what people find more shocking about this story–the fact that it never occurred to me to check his web page or social media sources (which didn’t exist when we started doing business together) or the casual way he referred to himself as a nigger. It is weird that during the Paula Deen story the media kept saying “the N-Word” as if uttering the world itself would bring down lightning. And yet, this is how a major Wall Street lawyer describes his obligation to go to rural South Carolina for a family reunion featuring collard greens and fried chicken. When a white person thinks it, it’s racism. When a black person says it about himself, its endearing. I don’t really have a point, other than to say that in a time when we have a black president, we need to consider the Supreme Court’s recent conclusion that America is a different place now than it was forty years ago. And what that means.