A commenter at Pandagon says:
My own parents . . . would no more use the phrase "African American" than they would eat dirt. Their polite word is "Negro," and their more typical one is the one I refuse to write. Still, my father won several awards from the black students' association at the college where he taught and my mother got a citation from the NAACP in our county for her work supporting black-owned businesses as a loan officer.
I'm sure you know many people who are the opposite, who are very, perhaps even exaggeratedly, careful about the terms they use when talking about other races—but have appalling attitudes. So, is it more important to talk the talk or walk the walk, and without saying the n-word isn't so bad or anyone should get a pass on it, is it as important to police its use in people like, well, like Karen's mother? I certainly accept the idea that the terminology is an element that goes into coloring one's attitudes, but I don't think it determines them. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the presumption that someone who uses the n-word is a racist, but what does one do if the rest of the evidence says otherwise?