Chicago Sun-Times
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Banning the "n" word

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Isn't it ironic.
It took a ballistic white man spewing the "n" word for black leaders to finally call on Black America to stop using the racial slur.

On Monday, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and other black leaders applauded comedian Paul Mooney for agreeing to stop using the "n-word."

I suppose these black leaders are better late than never. But why not call out P. Diddy, Chris Rock, or Russell Simmons on this issue? Who really cares anymore about Paul Mooney?

Also, this recent "ban the "n-word" campaign shows just how far behind black leaders really are on this issue. Activists have been raising awareness about the unacceptable use of the slur since 2004.

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87 Comments

uhhh, nope. But thanks for asking.

We can ban the N word all we want but since we cant dictate feelings and deeply entrenched racial antipathy what does it accomplish. Polite white people who might be racist to the bone probably never use the N word in public and I have heard a particular and very prominent "Black Leader" in Chicago use the word jocularly in an all black setting...at a private meeting of ministers no less. And even though I dont use the N word I still se a difference when P. Diddy says it and when Kramer, or whatever his name is, spits it out along with a lynching threat.

Black leaders have been behind on this issue because it is not a money making issue. The black leaders top priorities are money making issues. So this non money making issue was put on the back burner, if any burner at all.

Why not ban abortion, ban rap lyrics, ban gangs, ban drugs in the ghetto, ban the truly destructive things in black society along with the n word. Why not ban all racism with it, including the constant playing of the race card. Ooops, don't want to go to far, black leaders and Mary Mitchell would then be out of a job.

BOOK CRITICAL OF AFRICAN AMERICANS WHO USE THE N-WORD

Los Angeles, CA.,- Author H. Lewis Smith has written a thought provoking, culturally divided book that will not only spark heated conversation, but can also bring about real change. The N-word is often used in the African American community amongst each other and is generally not a problem when spoken by another African American. However, once the word is used by a Caucasian person, it brings on other effects. The question is "who can use the word and why?" Smith believes it is a word that should be BURIED!!!!

The book is written in a manner that all can understand. The points are well-taken and the wording is easy to follow. There are quotes from great people in our history including Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, James Baldwin and many, many others. Smith has mixed history with honesty, love with life, education with effects. This is a great book for educators, parents, managers, professionals, newsmen, and anyone else wanting an in-depth look at the N-word, the effects and the solutions. A MUST READ!!!!

To learn more about Bury that Sucka, please visit http://www.burythatsucka.com

What a stupid idea to "ban" a word. How would you accomplish that? Even if you could, what would that get you? You can't ban hatred from someone's heart. You can't force someone to respect you. It reminds me of people burning books, another futile effort. Just like burning all the books won't make the objectionable ideas in the books go away, neither will banning the n-word make all the hate and pain go away.

When someone gets mad at you, they say the things they think will bother you the most. Black people are so outspoken about how badly the word upsets them that it's an obvious choice when someone of another color wants to get under their skin. The only way to make the word go away is to stop letting it get to you. It's just a word. It only has as much power as we collectively give it.

Bill Cosby has tried for years to inform young black men of the hatred that word carried back in the days before the equality movement. Frankly it is the parents fault of these rappers and others that continue to use it. If they would have impressed upon them as children the hatred and hurt behind the word, maybe just maybe the word could have faded away. But when you have rappers and comedians still using the word it's hard for anyone white, black, purple, whatever, not to spew it in anger. Do I think Michael Richards (Kramer) was wrong? Absolutely, I was embarrassed to be the same "color" as him. But it is hard to comprehend why young black people feel the need to call each other a "N...er". I have never called my friends a Honky or a cracker, I believe these words to be low class, uneducated words, just as I find "Ni..er", to be a low class, uneducated word.

How can a journalist possibly condone banning ANY word in America?! How many people of all races died fighting for the first amendment? Now that we are in such a ridiculous state of political correctness we are looking to change the fundamentals that this nation is founded on. Just because a word is offensive is not a reason to ban it, but a sign to look deeper into the issue of why it is being used and why it is so offensive. Should we also burn all the books that have the “n? word in them? And pull all previously made movies with it off the market. The world will never be a utopia, it’s time for us to pull our PC heads out of the sand and face that fact. No one wants to take responsibility for anything, instead of crying why not fight back and wipe out the stereo types that generate these slurs toward all races and creeds? Why not outdate the slurs instead of banning them. Oh yeah there’s work involved with that, and there’s no immediate gratification.

When we are done banning all offends us, then, and only then, can we adopt and take comfort in the slogan that will eventually unite us all:

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

Thank you and long live Big Brother

The N word is destructive no matter who uses it. It actually offends me more to hear African-Americans say such a word that it does when a caucasian says it. It is a known fact that most Caucasians are racist and can get away with almost anything and thats why they say and do anything. It's time for African-Americans to stop just speaking on the subject but actually put a plan into action to stop this foolishness. Stop our people from using the word and really let them know that its not harmless no matter who says it, enough is enough!

When people say "it's a black thing and you wouldn't understand" that is true to the extreme. White people were the ones that wanted to give Richards a pass because they don't feel the sting of racism. How many Jewish people came out and said that they would never forgive or work with Mel Gibson again after it was revealed he made negative comments? Even the unfunny Rob Snyder said he wouldn't work with Gibson. Who in the hell is Rob Snyder? I don't use the word because it's silly. I wouldn't call you anything I wouldn't want you to call me. We have forgotten why that word was created in the first place. It doesn't remove the sting when I hear young brothers using it like a term of endearment. Rappers will never stop because it gives them Street creed to use it. Drugs are in the ghettoes and young white kids come from the 'burbs to get them. They would never allow drugs in the well-off suburbs. But in the poor white suburbs they have meth labs so drugs aren't just a black thing. Black leaders are no different than white leaders when it comes to making money off of an issue or sweeping it under the rug if it doesn't bode with them losing money or making money. That's why we are in Iraq and refuse to assist in Durfar or places like that where the country is poor and dark-skinned and they can't make money off of it. The issues with this word won't go away because we have too many sheep in all walks of society who wouldn't give a 2nd thought to help one another or realize why the situation that you are in could be your own undoing. People used to want to fight if you said" your mama".Now they can call her a bitch and some people would agree that their own mother is a bitch. Have you no shame? The answer for some people is;NO.

Just more grandstanding from our so called "leaders". Banning a word is first unconstitutional and second impractical. As I have said before, if you can call someone fat, ugly, stupid, etc... why can't you call someone a n!&&@, S$@#!,W@#, or any other derogatory term. People can say whatever they wish, just be aware of the consequences of such acts. I do not use any such terms and check people (black and non-black) who do in my presence. But we need to be aware of context. It is only illegal to yell "Fire" in a crowded theatre if there is no fire. In the case that there was one, I am sure most people would appreciate the heads up.

Dan are you serious? Ban Rap Lyrics? Once again you show your ignorance. Should we ban rap lyrics like this:

"I don't get many compliments, but I am confident
Used to have a complex about, gettin too complex
You got me, willin to try, looked me in the eye
My head is still in the sky, since you walked on by
I'm feelin high, got my imagination flickerin like hot flames
it's how it seems, you make me wanna ride the Coltrane to A Love Supreme
My brown lady, creates environments, for
happy brown babies, I know it sounds crazy
but your skin's the inspiration for cocoa butter
You provoke a brother we should get to know one another
I discover when I bring you through my people say TRUE, all I can say
is all praise due I thank you God for a beauty like you"

You never seem to have any idea what you're talking about and your point is mostly that you believe Black people IN GENERAL have a pattern and pathology that is GENERALLY destructive. This for me gets at why a so-called discussion on race has not and will not be successful and that Black people need to concentrate on our own community/person/institution building and beyond that making sure that remedies are available in the law to guarantee that ALL people are given equal access and protection and process. Jerry and Dan are not interested in having a real discussion, they are obviously ignorant; and I can base this on the fact that Jerry purports to know who and what the Black "leadership" consist of and Dan doesn't seem to know that more whites use drugs, get abortions, and buy rap albums (by percentage and number) than Blacks.

Why do we allow a single word to so define us? Why is it okay to use the word jokingly amongst our peers but then get so angry when someone outside of our race uses it?
Do we also get as angry at the terms we use to degrade our african american women? What about when parents call their children ugly names?
There is power in words and that is why we get so angry. However, that power, should lie also in the person hearing, not only in the person speaking.
If I am called a female dog, do I anger? no because I look at the site from whence it came. It usually comes from someone with a minimal vocabulary who can think of nothing else to say to get their point across.
People can and will say whatever they want, whenever they want...welcome to the USA. It is for us to be stronger than the deliverer of the ugliness.

The NAACP needs to take concrete steps on this issue like lobbying the FCC to ban the use of the N-word in movies and tv shows that are broadcast on cable tv. You can watch Ice Cube's "Friday" on a Saturday afternoon on the USA Network, where every curse word is bleeped out, but the N-word is conspicuously left in to be heard over and over again. What kind of message does that send? That the N-word isn't really that offensive, when given it's history, it is one of the most offensive words ever spoken. This needs to amount to more than just a PR campaign of "just say No". There are definitive actions that the NAACP can take to demonstrate true activism on this issue and enrich the debate. Let's hope they step up to the challenge.

i think that if you are going to ban the use of the n word then you also need to ban other racial slurs like "honkey, chinc, or spic" because blacks arent the only one who get offended by racial slurs so quit thinking about yourselves and stert thinking about others too because i can recall a time when a black called me a honkey.

Maybe you should stop worrying about a word & worry more that animals in your community are killing your children everday!

The word will never be banned..., I feel "WE" as blacks have taken the word and have misued it so to our own disertion, how can you really say it's ok for us to use the word but not people of other races. I am guilty of using the word, "what's up my n-word?" I hear that everyday in talking with friends and family...

"Who really cares anymore about Paul Mooney?"

now that was ignorant...

Its very hard to take any thing Jesse "The Opportunist" Jackson Sr. says seriously. He's no more of a leader of the Black Community than I am, and I'm not Black. His wavering back and forth on what position to take with remarks such as "dialog could be a good thing" and "we should talk about it" completely smacks of one spinning their wheels and going nowhere. So when "The Opportunist" finally took a position, he opted to tell Die Hard Seinfeldians to "Not buy Season 7 of Seinfeld."

Mary,

Is Jesse really that RETARDED?

Thanks as always for your point of view. Paul Mooney, Cosby, & Chapelle are still the definition of Cool by me.

Thanks,

Sun Times Reader.

I would like to say that while many of the responses posted are referencing African Americans use of the n-word in casual or friendly conversation or the use of racist comments by Black comedians during their acts; a couple of very important points are being overlooked. One - the issue is not about what blacks say or do. The fact of the matter is that ALL people say things in casual conversation with friends and family members that would be unacceptable for a person outside of the circle to say. And yes, there are cases among African Amercians when use of the n-word is inflammatory. Two- the issue at hand is wheterh Richards comments were racist and inappropriate and the answer to both is YES. These comments were made out of anger and malice with the intent to offend. They were not a part of an act meant to entertain. Racial comments used in comedic act may be a little controversial but in most cases the ENTIRE audience is amused, including the group that is the butt of the joke.
The thing that people need to be reminded of is that anything said in malice that is hurtful to entire group of people that have nothing to do with the situation, as was the case with Richards's comments, is inappropriate and the person responsible should be called on the carpet as a result.

If they what Kramer to pay money in damages for his use of the word, then make all rappers and comedians who use the word on a regular basis. Heck, charge anyone who ever uses the word again!

Didn't Malcolm X once say somthing about "chickens coming home to roost?"

Every other black rapper and comic in the country has been recklessly throwing this hateful word around. How long did they think it would take for some dumb white "entertainer" to get the idea he could toss it around too?

Discretion, taste, manners, common sense, integrity and compassion are all dead concepts in our sorry, sick society.

People are insensitve when sensitivity is required, yet oversensitive when a thick skin (any color) would be in order. Sigh. Makes me wanna hollar!

Pleeaseee! Why can't you people for once reach for some obtainable goals. The "N" word has made a dramatic come back via lyrical groups of the late 90's. They use the words as they would say as a term of endearment!!!. The usage is wide spread and daily within the Black communities through-out the country. The Pryors, Murphys and comics of the late 70's and 80's used the word as a comic crutch in their skits. This in itself is an impossible task, it would be easier getting Black parents to show up at school's parents, teachers night. This word is Black Americana, as offensive as it is, it was once believe by many, that the constant use of this word, would help desensitize the painful meaning and cause the word to be used less and finally disappear from our vocabulary , if not others. I often listen to many of White co workers and acquaintances who at a drop of a hat race into a verbal tirade of people being POLLOCKS, DAGOS, SPICS, WETBACKS, PINEAPPLES,GOOKS and words and names that I'm still not sure of. Its always struck me of being a bit funny, that I only grew up knowing the "N" word and not until I got old enough to intermingle socially and at work with other races did I even realize that their were derogatory terms describing people of other races. But, when you have to grow up and live and work around people who believe that abortions, drugs, gangs, rap music, racial strife is an exclusive Black problem, effecting only Blacks....how in the hell do you even fix your mouth to say "Let's ban the "N" word". We as a people haven't mature enough to recognize where lies the problems.

Paul Mooney and the rest of the racist blacks are the reason the N word will not be eliminated. As long as blacks gleefully talk about choking whites to death the N word should be part of our language. Only an N would talk that trash....Paul Mooney. Check the creep out on YouTube with his racist rants. You black folks are spewing worse than any little N word. Nevermind funny, I can't believe whites are laughing that one of your musicians would use his last two minutes on earth to strangle a white guy. If that's amusing, then lynchings and forks up your butt should be a laugh riot. Hey, it's all in fun.

Again, Mary, I want you to name me three white comics who ever said anything even close to what these blacks are saying about whites. Name three...hey name one. You can't because there's a double standard in this country regarding blacks and the rest of the country. How do you expect "inclusion" and "parity" and all the other buzzwords you love so much when you don't mind segregation when it comes to talking trash? Big flapping ignorant mouths that never close, spewing racist crap. It's a disgrace.

Mitchell comment:

I'm not a big fan of comics...period. And I certainly don't go to comedy clubs to hear white stand up comics. So, no i can't name three white comics who are saying anything about anybody period.

It would be nice to just stop with the racial stuff, white people hate hearing about reparations and how awful we are.

Just stop, let's judge each other by the character of our deeds and not anything else. Stop the Black/White thing altogether.

tHE N WORD IS COMMONLY USED IN TODAYS SOCIETY BY RAPPERS AND COMEDIANS ON A REGULARY BASIS. tHE N WORD IS DEGRARTING TO THE BLACK RACE, BUT WE USE IT WITHOUT ANY THOUGHT TO THE MEANING. THE N WORD MEANS STUPID AND IGNORANT IT IS ANOTHER WAY WHITE SOCIETY HAS TRIED TO KEEP BLACK PEOPLE AS SECOND CLASS CITIZENS.I FEEL AS A BLACK WOMEN THE N WORD IS NOT ACCEPTABLE AND SHOULD NOT BE USED AT ALL, BUT THAT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

We need to continue to have a dialogue about race. Reading some of the comments above underscores the need for dialogue. When will some individuals realize people have to "play" the cards they are dealt. It is far too easy to dismiss discussions about the pervasiveness of racism with comments depicting people of color as playing the "race" card. Race is and never has been that easy to discuss...and we need to continue to reach an understanding among all cultures and stop dehumanizing people when we don't have an understanding of their history and culture.

Hi Mary, If you're uneducated and lack a strong vocabulary and command of the English language then you probaly use that work if you're black. If you're racist than you probaly use that word. I never have a reason to use that word and I completely am aware or the historical roots of the word so I would never use that word. I also would be more sympethetic than angry at someone else using that word. I would suggest to Mr. Richards or anyone using that word in my presence to get an education. There are a lot of ignorant people in this world and it's a waste of ennergy to be angry at stupidity. Cassius M. Williams

In Response to Dan: post Nov 29, 2006 2:25 p.m.

Why not ban abortion?

It should be ban because it is murder, but that is just my opinion.

ban rap lyrics:

Why just rap lyrics? White teenagers who buy 70 to 75% of the Rap music won't get to enjoy it any more.


What about dem good ole boys Country & Western songs? That Goth Rock is kinda deep & scary with their followers dressed in black all the time, don't you think?

ban gangs:

Are you talking about the White Supremacists gangs, White Militia groups or KKK? Wait a minute!! You talking about the-- wink-wink --Cops In Blue, who shoot Black & Brown individuals regardless of age or gender first, and fall behind the Ethnocentric Euro power structure to justify 50 bullets shot at individuals carrying no weapons, and some of their bullets going into nearby homes. Could it be the 92 year-old Black woman, simply sitting in her house, and BAM, knock the door down and start shooting & kill her is whites way of letting people of color know the Intimidation Factor is NOT OVER, though I keep hearing we are a melting pot, we are color-blind in America. // I guess it didn't dawn on the undercover squad to make sure they had the right house, or simply get the old lady out of harms way. "Oh, she wasn't WHITE, right?"

ban drugs in the ghetto,

What about drugs in suburbia or rural America where Crystal Meth is a major problem. Don't forget Estacy & other date rape drugs YOU GUYS invent, okay? Don't EVER hear about the police barrelling in and shooting down the angry white male teenagers holding a kegger party with assualt rifles, who go on murdering sprees at their local schools, and the serial raping that happens, now do we? Matter of fact don't hear about killing Bambi with high powered Bow and Arrows, now do we?

Amazing how the WHITE CONTROLLED MEDIA never harps constantly about this. I would think white people would be highly agitated when NOT KNOWING there is a WHITE Druggie, Rapist or Murderer in their communities, the same as when ONE BLACK or BROWN FAMILY moves onto the block?

ban the truly destructive things in black society along with the n word.

What destructive things? We are already redlined when applying for bank loans. WHO OWNS THE BANKS?

You couldn't be talking about crappy city services are you? I know you NOT talking about WHITE FLIGHT from communities which leaves houses unsold,and NOW the COMPANIES have closed shop and move to suburbia to be closer to RACISTS? Take the jobs which people of color would work and be closer to home. No that can't be it! Now instead of a fully involved community, there are loads and loads of board-ups in these areas. AND NO GOOD DECENT WHITE PERSON WANTS TO LIVE THERE, now do they Dan?

Dan, the N-word does not belong to white people anymore. This is why most of you get angry about this WORD! Whites know if they use it THERE IS GOING TO BE HELL TO PAY!!...For your information, I am not upset about Mr. Richards using it, ONLY HIS OBVIOUS PHYSICAL THREATS & RANTINGS to harm another individual.

This is what REALLY bother whites, at one time whites controlled this word and used it as he did in a quest to be as mean-spirited as humanly possible. NOW YOU CAN'T and it irks white people, and obviously some Black people as well.

Look at Micheal Richards feeble attempts to apologize. The cat is out of the bag, but I for one, never thought there was one it it.

Why not ban all racism with it, including the constant playing of the race card.

White man stating BAN RACISM...*LOL*...Wait a minute didn't you just say ban the N-word too?...*LOL*...It is quite apparent you don't realize your RACIST rants with such statements.

Any way, you preaching to the choir, now go sit down with the WHITE congregation and tell them, White Supremacy must STOP, for all to get along.

Tell Whites, don't playa hate --after generations & centuries of using it to gain an economic (wealth builders), polictical (Jim Crow), socialogical advantage-- when denying Reparations to African Americans we are now asserting the Race Card.

Tell Whites, don't cringe at the Race Card now, and tell Black and Brown people "Well, My PEOPLE WASN'T HERE during SLAVERY!" If this was not or is not the biggest use of the Race Card, especially after benefitting from the Segregation and Jim Crow Laws, I don't know what is? FHA & VA loans which Black veterans were not allowed access to, but whites used to go to college, create wealth( you know equity in a home to pass to your children)easily attained.

WHITE PEOPLE have selective memories when it come to their PRIVILEGES & ENTITLEMENTS, which were NOT earned.

Ooops, don't want to go to far, black leaders and Mary Mitchell would then be out of a job.

OOOPS, I still didn't go far enough in detail, I know some whites, after reading the truth, they become apolectic and refuse to accept WHITES are the biggest deceivers to themselves, NOT THE REST OF THE WORLD!!!

Oh, and Ms Mitchell and others will still have a job!!

Well, it's about time someone in the Black Community did something about "n" word. Our leaders they are so far behind the times. This word is so well overused that Black Africans call African Americans the N word. At least Webster's dictionary has removed the word from is lastest edition. (food for thought).

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other black leaders need racism or they do not have a cause.
I would like to stop the use of many words, but it isn't possible to do. Jackson, Sharpton and others know this, and are just playing along. They know the word will be used and they want it to be used...
It may upset some people but the two black leaders I mention are not good examples for anyone. One is adulterer and the other a liar....It might be best to figure out who you want to be your "black leaders".

Black Comedians, gangbangers, Hip-Hop artists, and African-Americans have been calling each other this all along. SO WHERE WAS JACKSON? WHY ONLY NOW? He's been pals with alot of these comedians, record producers, etc.... I'm sure the ACLU would say that a person's 1st amendment rights has been violated if the word is banned. Myself, I don't use it. So go ahead and ban it. Also, ban 'honkie', 'cracker', those 'white boys', 'kikes', 'hymies' (which Jackson was caught using), 'wetbacks', 'spiks', and 'ragheads', which are all used in derogatory ways. Its got to be a 2-way street. These Black Comedians are just gonna have to find their funny material some other way.

I think that black leaders saw this latest outbreak as bad press from an issue that has seemed to be waiting to burst for years. Banning the "N" word is no different than banning thoughts of Pamela Anderson running along a beach in slow motion, the only real differense is it goes back to respect. If Michael Richards and every other "white" person can't use it because it's disrespectful, then it shouldn't be showcased as acceptable in the media and pop culture by pop icons. Will a "white" person freak out the next time he's called a "cracker"? No. Why? Because we've learned that it is a way to identify "white" people by "non-white" people. Does that mean it should be used? Not at all. It's just proof that racial slurs have different tollerences in a society which has scietific evidence that "race" does not exist. The "N" word describes a MODERN culture of exclusivity where people identify themselves by their skin color, heritage, and upbringing. The word is so far removed from the conotation that Michael Richards used. It's like calling a lion a tuna.

The fact is that the word nigger is synonomous with the word black, however unpleasant this may feel. There is no niggerland. There is no blackland. There is, however, an Africa. Black and white is slave language. Race represents what you are, not who you are. Until ethnic language replaces racial language whatever terms are used, black, white, nigger, colored, cracker, whatever, will poison Dr. King's dream and keep the psycho-social dynamics of slavery alive. Each of us has the power to end it. Passing a law has nothing to do with it.

it's ok to say the n-word

The current "black leadership" (particularly Jackson and Sharpton) have always known what is best for THEIR personal agendas, but refuse to do what is RIGHT for THEIR so-called CONSTITUENTS. What they do know how to do is pad their pockets and throw the race card around...while creating a larger division between races within this country. Way to go reverends!

I don't feel it's wrong for black people to use the N word. It's a culture thing..if you don't get it or aren't part of the culture oh well!Why is the n-word offensive to white people? What does the contemporary use of the word among blacks have to do with white people? Until white people are able to express and address what is so bothersome about the word for them, realistically, they need to get over it.

I personally will not use such putrid utterances
on anyone. But,if I am
bullied or provoked,all hell will break loose.

There are so many valid reasons to dislike another
human being other than race.
How about believing in might makes right,Literally.

That what the authority figures in all positions of power fall back on and
blind addherance to law and order,regardless of
jutification or fairness.

This S.O.B Richards showed
his true colors and I am glad he did. Now I can wish for his death and the death of all racists,
bullies and the other
assortment of caitiffs in
this world with glee and a guilt free conscious.

" Respect Me or Put Me to
Death ". Thank Malcolm
X for that quote. That is how I choose to live the rest of my life.
One gets tried of dealing with others in constant
battle for EVERYTHING!

Only people from a contam-
inated genepool or inbree-
ders are racists,caitiffs
or bullies or they are
taught by the same.

Don't ban the "n" word. The power of the word can convey a hard-hitting commentary on a specific issue;an example:when Muhammad Ali was asked why he did not want to go to Vietnam,his response was,"aint no Viet Cong ever called me nigger." Some might dismiss that as being simplistic,but that statement summed up the truth at that time concerning the status of blacks in America. Just as the word made its point then,so can the word make a point today.

MITCHELL COMMENT:

What point does the word make today? It is a racial slur. As for banning the word, each person has to make a personal commitment to stop using it. What is so attractive about the word that we can't drop it from our vocabulary the same way some people have vowed off cursing?

As a white man, I feel that the N word is an ugly word that harkens back to a horrible and embarrassing time in our country's history. To ban it hurts nobody. To promote it's use via black comedians framing a joke around the term, or rappers using it in their music only reinforces an image of blacks as subserviant and inhibits self respect - while also providing racists with a weak reason why they should be able to use it.

I can't think of anyone who would lose their living or way of life if the black community joined together to work to rid this ugly term from our society's vernacular. In my opinion, the word promotes disrespect of the tough road faced by african americans from the era of slavery to now. To loosely throw the term around in order to frame a joke or to show your street cred is a disrespect to those from an uglier era who often heard that word as a pretext to being harrassed, assaulted or lynched. People like Jesse Jackson too often get behind the wrong cause - defending people such as OJ or Michael Jackson and such behind the veil of fighting racism, rather than fighting for things such as equality in education and health care for the poor. In this instance I believe this is a small step in the right direction. Slavery was and is no joke and the N word makes light of it.

The rap group Public Enemy wrote a song about not using the n-word back in 1991. "I Don't Wanna Be Called Yo Ni***" on the album Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Black.

This is a "no-brainer". The N-word is universally offensive, and symbolizes something that New Americans(I hope) want to put behind us. Because some black well known entertainers or some average black person want to use it as some form as endearment doesn't make the usage Right. The vestiges of slavery/Jim Crow and the atrocities that goes with those era's have left some inexplicable psychological damage to a lot of black people. And to cavalierly use a word just exemplyfies that psychological insanity. I imagine Prisoners of war and Jews in Nazi Germany experienced identifying with the Rulers. It's sick. The image and the symbol of the word is repulsive, and know "hipster" of any race be he black or whatever is morally justified in doing so. I say, put limits on it's use and classify it under "Hate speech". Unless of course we all want to just resort to all out Racial War. We need to improve this American Society in small ways and large.

Dan your onslaught on "banning" including Black leaders and Mary Mitchell it "telling". That is the "mantra" that unfortunately, whites as a group use when there is "blatant" discrimination, injustice, oppression fueled by blatant white racism; then, when a Black Leader speaks about it, or writes about it, they are using the "race-card". It just shows that many whites are so ashamed of the treatment they have caused Africans that tired of being sorry they excuse the guilt by blaming African-Americans for the Racism and Discrimination White's cause. I guess that want advance Racial Tolerance in America Dan.

Who will enfore this ban? Will there be tickets issued by police when they hear the word?
What other words should be banned as well? I think we should ban "white trash" as we ban the "n" word because that is just as distasteful.

To make things fair, if nigger is banned then honky would have to be banned as well. To S. Gurke, did you get all of that white guilt cleansed out of your system with that last post?

MITCHELL COMMENT:

Oh, are white people calling each other "honky" these days?

No, I don't hear many whites calling each other honky. But some blacks do and if nigger is going to be banned than other offensive terms, like honky should be banned as well. I'm just looking for fairness, that's all. In fact, last night a racist black lawyer called Sean Hannity a white boy last night on his show. I feel there should be outrage over that racist attack on Hannity.

By the way Jerry I agree with 'banning (honkey) or any other offensive word. However, I don't recall who created white racial slurs: cracker, honkey, redneck, etc., my question: Does anyone know the orgin of these terms? But yes, I agree let's banned them all in: theatre, print media, television, music.

Mary,
I can't seem to process why you would feel that Paul Mooney's change of heart is not important. In fact, its very powerful. Paul Mooney has written countless material for comedic legends and continues to write for those up and coming. Although there are plenty of individuals who are not familiar with who he is, Mooney by far, is an important part of this picture. Paul Mooney has stated that for about 20 years he and Michael Richards have been "friends" and even he was suffered a grade of shock to hear what came out of Richards' mouth and the tone it was used. Presumably, Mooney may be among the black folks who allow their white friends to be comfortable using such derogatory language behind closed doors and now he even understands that doing so is giving people permission to hate us to our face. I PERSONALLY DON'T CARE. I pass these idiots by everyday downtown Chicago and you can't change them---they are just plain STUPID! This battle is for my children who have yet to feel the hairs stand up on their necks because people can't get pass their race and if Paul Mooney denounces the "N-word" then that too, is an accomplishment.

I used to ride a bus through an area near the Gold Coast. I overheard a lot of conversations by Jewish people of both sexes, and never, ever did I hear one of them use the "k" word, not even jocularly. I don't know what that tells others, but it tells me that if a word is truly inflammatory and hurtful, that NO ONE uses it. So what does that tell you about the "n" word and the people who think it's okay to use it? It tells me that the black people who use it so routinely and so casually have never experienced the racism that their parents or grandparents did--parents and grandparents who probably did NOT ever use the word routinely and casually.

So you're a bully if you respond to hecklers, but not if you heckle?

Mary, Jerry was saying if the N-word is banned then the H-word should be banned, also. Actually, thats a fair request. No DOUBLE-STANDARD.......Your reply was, "Oh, are white people calling each other "honky" these days? In otherwords, are you saying since whites don't use it v. other whites its OK? Therefore, its acceptable for blacks to use it as a figure of speech (slur) towards whites? Is that what you are saying?

Mitchell comment;

No. What I'm saying there is no need to ban the h-word. In fact, the only time I've seen that word in print in decades is on this blog and in response to the Kramer debacle. Usage of the h-word isn't the problem.

Down here in Atlanta, the term "Blanka" is used instead of "N-I-Double G A" as an exercise of trying to quit saying the "N" word...It will be hard to convince some people to stop using the word because they sincerely believe it's a term of endearment when used while fellowshipping among themselves..."Blanka" is not that much better, but it's a start...Baby steps people, baby steps...Give it try next time you feel compelled to use the "N" word.

Mary, doesn't banning the word, make it more salacious? Personal integrity & moral values should be enough to insure the words' demise. Unfortunately their aren't enough of either.

Mitchell comment:

I'm advocating that black people take personal responsibility for banning the n-word. Don't use it. Don't allow anyone to use it around you. Don't support those who use it. Most of us don't let people use foul language around us, but say nothing when our friends use the n-word.

Dan,

Your comments about "black leaders" and Ms. Mitchell are very telling about your own bigotry. First, what does it mean to be a black leader? Second, who exactly is a "black leader"? Do you find Colin Powell to be so repulsive? Is being a person of African-American ancestry and in a position of civic leadership automatically mean that person is open to your derision?

Your ideas for banning things seem kinda strange. Do you think black leaders want gangs, offensive lyrics, etc.?

I wonder how different you are from Michael Richards. Maybe you're worse than Richards, someone who contains his racism on a day to day basis. Maybe you're the kind of person who may not use "nigger" but will act on your bigotry in subtle ways every day of your life. Maybe you're the kind of person who won't hire an African American or will judge them more harshly?

You attack "black leaders" and Ms. Mitchell with no real explanation as to what they've done to raise your ire.

Maurice-I'm a lover, just like you.
We don't have to imagine if these roles/colors were reversed, they have been. This article is a perfect example of hypocrisy by people like you.

I have never in my life refered to a "White" person as a honky, the fact that puppy eyes made a connection is a disgrace to me. The word Nigger started back in slavery times an a African- American would only say honky when provoked!

Jerry, I have no white guilt - I have never treated another human being worse than an animal. Never "owned" a slave. Compassion and an attempt at empathy is as far as I can go on that one. Not all white people were slave owners or supporters.

Also, as far as I know, white people were not called honky right before they were strung from a tree.

No Mary - white people are not calling each other honky, as you may have suspected. The last time I can remember the word honky used with any regularity was in The Jeffersons.

Jerry, I ask you, though: Did it feel good writing the word nigger?

Jerry - Put your white hood and robe on, grab your scepter and fight for the white man's right to call people nigger! You pathetic tool.

Mary - As a caucasian,nobody uses the word honky, period -
except, apparently Jerry.

The whole point of a racial slur is to be hateful, demeaning and offensive, and honky means nothing, it provokes no emotion, while nigger refers back to the era when blacks were slaves, a time which he apparently longs for.

I find it interesting that some white people (Jerry, PrettyEyes)are actually objecting to, and taking offense to suggestions that the n word is a racist and derogotory word, and shouldn't be used! As if they are defending their right to use it! “To be fair, honky should be banned too?? What does the word honky have to do with the black community trying to work together to try to make the practice of blacks calling other blacks the n word socially unacceptable? Don't worry, you are still free to call blacks whatever word you can conjure up in that mind of yours.

Just as you suspected, Mary, white people don't call each other honky - does anyone? I swear the last time I heard that term was in The Jeffersons!

The word only hurts, creating a negative perception of blacks. We all know just how powerful words are. Remember the words, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION (WMD), an the fear it created, has us bogged down in Iraq. Ban it.

Let's boo black comedians when they use the n-word.

When I say 'ban' i'm sayiing within reason; for example, this would apply with FCC rules; in other words, "talking heads" the likes of Howard Stern( who I like) should not be able to spew it over the airwaves insighting millions of listerners; comedians; in some literature; in theater/movies/plays; in public speech and similar areas.

The government cannot police private thought are conversation and I'm not say ban that. I'm saying consider banning. It is all is what Society you want our children to live under. If you want are unborn inheritants of our country to call each other ethnic slurs and hate each other, then we are looking at a secular fragmented society like they have in Iraq with everyone praying for the chance to explode in "ethnic cleansing". I hope the New America is about promoting and making choices that uplifts and perserves our Union and Bill of Rights. As a multi-racial society that is becoming more Brown and Black than White, we need to strongly consider what's right for all of us, and not let our selfish prejudices be the undoing of this great nation.

Are "honky," "cracker," "kike," "hymie," and other derogatory slang terms willingly marketed through music, dance, and song on a daily basis?

I agree that M Richards rant was wrong in so many ways, but the real race issue is on tv every night. When was the last time Nancy Grace went out of her way to host a show dedicated to finding out who murdered a young inner city black man? Or help find a missing black baby?
Or solve any crime that isnt a caucasion based crime that is already media sensationalized. If you dont make six figures and are white good luck with Nancy?

Born in 1950, I was the son of a white share-cropper / tenant farmer on a large farm in north Louisiana. Both Black and White families lived and worked beside one another. I was taught that the word nigger actually meant a person of low moral standards such as a thief, liar, wife beater, child molester, etc. and had no reference to the color of someone's skin.

ms. mitchell,i am curious to learn your job description. baiter, inciter,anger monger come to mind. your contempt for all races and cultures different from your own plus your continual denigration of black men everywhere is leaving you a smaller and smaller fan base. i think your intense bitterness, directed at so many, prevents you from making a positive difference for your devoted few.

Nigger is a horrible word that brings visions of lynchings and slavery. Why would I as a black person want to call myself something that was used as a tool of disgrace? Why are the only race that continues to oppress ourselves. Shame on you P Diddy, Chris Rock, BET and 50 Cents for leading our black boys astray. BRAVO to you Will Smith for a truthful representation of what a lot of black young men have become: educated and happy. BET is station that shows what niggers are. This is not Black Entertainment Television. The niggers are always trying to come out the 'hood, only to sell crack in the suburbs. What type of mess is this?

truth is, we really are losing it in our culture these days. white people arent using it anymore, except for idiots who typically do. I bet Kramer uses it regularly.

the only ones who use it are rappers , aka "hip hop artists"...

Yes White People are calling each other "Honky", they call each other "Diego", "Greaser", "Pollack", "Mick", etc.

To Steve & S. Gurke, you GWL's must have trouble reading because when I answered the question, I said no, not many whites call each other honky. So when Steve said I apparently use the word he is just trying to currie favor with the moderator and the blacks on this board by showing how "tolerant" he is. S. Gurke, why do you bring up slavery and lynchings? Those things were long in the past and have no bearing whatsoever on society today. Why don't you talk about the rampant black on white crime that exists TODAY? I will tell you why. Because it doesn't fit your liberal, anti-white agenda. I must say, you liberals are an extremely stupid bunch because I could have predicted you would bring up slavery and lynchings. You liberals need to come up with new material because the slavery references are weak and are getting old.

You know the 'N-word' is wrong. Please, NOBODY USE IT...What does bother me is the fact a black racist named Dr. Kamal Camden (I believe thats the spelling), a former North Carolina State University professor is calling for 'the extermination of all white people' the world over, he speaks his garbage at black universities (they showed a video of him calling for it at Howard University)and guess what, I have yet to hear any of the so-called black leaders and black columnists condemn him. Talk about hate. He even makes the KKK look like diversity advocates in comparison. So where are all you 'politically correct do-gooders' who call out everybody else? And you worry about some washed-up comedian when you got this poison running around.

I like Nancy Grace. She has had many shows dedicated to African Americans. In fact, she had the heartfelt black woman that was burned by her ex-boyfriend; she recently had the black woman that is on trial for murdering her infant in a microwave; she had something on OJ.

It's Oprah Winfrey who always does more shows on and with Whites than she ever does with Black and Black issues. When she does have a black guest, it is usually a famous entertainer or some entertainer girlfriend she likes. So, who do you blame? By the way, I do like Oprah, just making a point to defend Nancy Grace who I think is a "pretty white woman" boy, she's cute. Smile.

I prefer that anyone who wants to use it, use it. At least it allows me to know what camp they are in from day one. We should not be offended when someone uses the word...poor people uses it every day and what do we do about it. At least if we know those who use the word, we can decide whether or not to support them if they are producing a product for the public, as "Kramer" has.

We control our dollars, if I know your stance, I can better control how I impact your income statement...

Just an update on a sort of related story. The 7th court of appeals here in Chicago yesterday threw out just about all of the lawsuits requesting reparations for slavery. My question now is, where do these reparation sharks turn to now?

Mitchell Comment:

The key phrase here is "just about."

to Lonnie: You say boo any Black Comedian that uses the N-word....You can, I can't. Being a white guy, I'm going to be labeled a racist if I boo a black comedian. Sorry, but thats the way it is

to David: You are right. Perhaps maybe only 1 of 20 whites ever use that nasty word anymore. And yes, that includes even if no blacks are around.

to Maurice: I'm not sure of the origins of the H-word. I do know a late black radical named Stokely Carmichael always used that word in his speeches. As for 'redneck', blame other whites for that. Northern whites, thinking they are far smarter and superior to there southern brethren called them that, partially because alot of these southerners were poor farmers and there necks would be red from being out in the sun all day. Not making this up--a fact.

to anybody who can answer my question: What set Richards off v. these black guys in the audience? I heard one rumor that these guys themselves had been spewing racial taunts at Richards. Does anybody know?

I apologize for coming to this discussion late.

You know, I don't see what the big deal is. So Michael Richards made racist remarks. So what. Where was the outrage when Larry Johnson made his remarks during an interview on Inside the NFL? Where was the outrage then? He wasn't even being heckled or under any stress. He was having a calm interview with another black man and made racist comments. Where was the outrage then?

I'm so tired of the hypocrites in the media. I'm so tired of the hypocritical black "leaders" who feign outrage when a white man makes perceived or obvious racist remarks but who completely ignore and downplay racist remarks made by black. If you, or anybody in the media for that matter, won't take the time to write about both sides of the story then why should anybody be outraged when someone like Michael Richards does what he did?

The banding of the N- Word is not as important to the Black community, as the SILENCE of the African- Americans that were elected to Washington D.C. from Illinois and those civil, business, political and religious African-Americans who support and stand with Daley in his pursuit of re-election as mayor of the city of Chicago { Cong. Bobby Rush, Rev. Clay Evans, Larry of Rite-Way constrution, Min. Leanard of the Nation of Islam}., While Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court and canidate Dorothy Brown hand delivered a letter to U.S.Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, asking that there be a federal investigation into the cover-up by Mayor Daley and Cook County States Atty. Devine , of the torture of 100+ African- American men, by Jon Burge and other Chicago Police Officers.

If this had happen to 100+ Gay or Jewish men, and Daley, after being informed of this torture, did nothing about it., I don't think anyone from their respective commuities would stand with or for DALEY.

MAYBE WE NEED TO BAN THE WORD AFICAN-AMERICAN, because when we where called COONS, NEGROES, NIGGAS, one thing for sure we where a proud people and there would have been no way in Hell or Heaven would we or did we stand with a man or men who cover-up the torture of anyone and LORD knows we wouldn't never stand with someone who cover-up the torture of 1 BLACK PERSON,let along the TORTURE OF 100+ BLACK MEN.

Gator from Chicago

Unfortunately the woman on trial for the alledged microwave murder was the criminal and not the victim.More often than not the court tv style shows are more focused on what sells advertising and not how to help the underprivalaged.Its not Nancy so much as it is the system.

It's unfortunate that it takes a idiot like the Kramer guy to make this issue a priority amoung our "so called" black leaders in order to initiate a crusade to eliminate the use of the word.
Whenever we (black people) degrade and disrespect ourselves in music, movies and other media we are only giving everyone else permission to do the same.

As a people we are continuing to allow other races to have controll. We are taking the entire Nigger thing way to serious. Perhaps instead of banning the use how about we change the perception. Many times the term Nigger is used as a term of endearment amongst black people. If we all treat it as such and stop getting angry about it "Whitey" might get tired of using it. As long as they know we will react they will continue to torture us with it.

Sign me Pretty Nigger

I am so tired of being accused of "what we did" to the african americans. I personally NEVER owned a slave. Slavery has been gone for a LONG time. I have nothing to be ashamed of. If my ancestors owned slaves...i wouldnt know that, they are no longer around. So why should we continue to pay for what they did. There is no more slavery, and racism only stays alive because the african american community allows it.
As far as banning the n word...it's just a word, like many other. I've been called alot of things in my day. And they used to hurt me. But now i realize, they are just words. And words cant hurt you. LET IT GO!

I'm a 16 year african american i think that the n - word shouldn't be ban because it has so much history behind it i think if you ban the word that its like banning a part of history i know it was a bad part of history but i feel like generation after me need to know what our people had to go through for us to be where we are today now dont get me wrong i do say the word to my peers but its what i was raise around and after i heard what was going on about them trying to ban it i didnt want to say it anymore and now that i know whats going on about them trying to ban the word im trying to keep my peers from saying it around me now i did think it was okay for black people to say and not white people because i think that black poeple started to say it to show the white that it wasnt a big deal to them any more they where trying to take the power from the word you know what im saying but i think white people shouldnt say it because what it means and that what they use to call us to put us down but know that i done some research i think its kind of retard that anyone should want to say it and another thing should white people care if we call each other that its are business and black people dont go around calling white people crakers or white trash so i feel like they should show us some respect and not call us out our name either

I'm a 16 year african american i think that the n - word shouldn't be ban because it has so much history behind it i think if you ban the word that its like banning a part of history i know it was a bad part of history but i feel like generation after me need to know what our people had to go through for us to be where we are today now dont get me wrong i do say the word to my peers but its what i was raise around and after i heard what was going on about them trying to ban it i didnt want to say it anymore and now that i know whats going on about them trying to ban the word im trying to keep my peers from saying it around me now i did think it was okay for black people to say and not white people because i think that black poeple started to say it to show the white that it wasnt a big deal to them any more they where trying to take the power from the word you know what im saying but i think white people shouldnt say it because what it means and that what they use to call us to put us down but know that i done some research i think its kind of retard that anyone should want to say it and another thing should white people care if we call each other that its are business and black people dont go around calling white people crakers or white trash so i feel like they should show us some respect and not call us out our name either

A word is only as powerful as you take it. How we as black people use the word is our business. People are saying we can't change the meaning of the word but ever since I heard the newly defined version of the word I am cool with calling my people N.I.G.G.A. I loved 2pac when he was alive (R.I.P)he brought out a new meaning for the word ending in "a" not "er".His meaning and the meaning behind when I use it is (Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished). I don't hang with nor did I grow up around ignorant people. If we allow white or black leaders that are not living in the same struggle we live in to ban us from using that word the word will have the same powerful effect it had back in the day. Just think if you don't hear it as much then it will hurt when we do. I beleive that every black person needs to teach their family what the word means. Then let them know that a nigger can be black or white the definition of a nigger is an ignorant person.Oh and for those of you who don't know the definition of white is not rich. So when you see one of our people get money and live good they are not acting white they are being successful. This is a debate that could go on forever. This is just my opinion.

I'm black and I believe this entire conversation is ludicrous. Black people may be offended by the use of the N word but I’m sure that everyone is offended by something. No one wants to be called stupid, ugly or, stinky. Why don’t we ban the use of those words too? Why? I’ll tell you why because this is America. The freedom of speech is one of the things that make this nation great. If you don’t want to be called the N word there is nothing you can do, because you cannot control the thoughts and actions of others. That would be limiting our rights. If your rights are taken away it’s only a matter of time before you become a slave. Big brother is not a myth people.

Do you all think that maybe we're giving this word too much attention, and therefore even more power?

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Mitchell published on November 28, 2006 11:28 AM.

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