I knew it was going to stir intense emotions when I wrote about a prominent white woman in Long Beach repeating a racial slur, but I didn’t realize it would still be causing controversy months later.

It is interesting to sit back and watch how things play out. When I originally wrote the column addressing a long-standing staple in the food community and the creator of Long Beach Black Restaurant Week, Terri Henry, using the N-word on multiple occasions, I thought that it would result in the same song and dance we see time and time again.

A public apology, assurances that the behavior was not a reflection of her character, and a promise to be better. Nothing of the sort took place. Instead, Henry doubled down and said the apologies that were needed were given privately, and she fully expected her work in the Black community to absolve her of any and all backlash.

For the most part, she was right. Not only were several Black restaurant owners involved with Black Restaurant Week unmoved by her behavior, but they also continued to work with her. Things took a turn when writer Brian Addison, another prominent figure in the Long Beach food scene, challenged Henry’s selling of Long Beach Black Restaurant Week as a way to scam the Black community.

That assertion resulted in a very public battle over Black Restaurant Week between two white residents in Long Beach. As odd as that is, Addison’s claims did result in Henry issuing her first public apology, seven months after her repeated use of the racial slur.

While the mudslinging was well underway, Addison sent me a text mocking Terri Henry. It included a picture of her, which he intentionally altered to feature a cartoon bubble right beside her with the same racial slur that he felt was reason enough for everyone in the community to sever ties with her.

What is the difference between what Henry said and a text message Addison created and circulated to his friends that included a racial slur? None.

There was a difference in the aftermath. Almost immediately, Addison issued a private apology to me, as well as posted a public apology on his Facebook page, ‘Long Beach Food Scene.’

This all reinforced my belief that we need to talk about these issues more openly.

A few months ago, I sat down with three leaders from the Black community: Honey Blu of New Era Long Beach and the April Parker Foundation, Senay Kenfe of The Six, and Wes Porter of Urban Society of Long Beach. The goal was to have a conversation about why we as Black people use a word that has always and will always be used outside of the community as a way to show hate and devalue us.

While I felt the conversation was enlightening and needed, I struggled with releasing it so long after Henry’s initial use of the word. But here we are again.

While I am disappointed that the use of the N-word by a prominent white person in the community has happened again, I am proud of the resolve several people in the community have to move forward together.

I invite you to listen to the first episode of The Conversation, a podcast that brings leaders from the community together to discuss difficult topics and, hopefully, bring about change.