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NYC Urges People Not to Use N-Word

NYC Urges People Not to Use N-Word

New York declared the n-word off limits to all races Wednesday in a purely symbolic resolution prompted by the common, casual use of the slur in hip-hop music, comedy and street slang.
"People are using it out of context," said Leroy Comrie, a black city councilman who sponsored the unanimously passed measure. "People are also denigrating themselves by using the word, and disrespecting their history."
New York's resolution is not binding and merely calls on residents to stop using the slur. Leaders of the nation's largest city also hope to set an example.
Rudis Mata, 21, of New York said it was pointless to ban the word if city had no plans to enforce it, adding that he thinks it's a violation of free speech.
"I don't necessarily think people should ban the word, but it's a derogatory term and it shouldn't be used," he said. "It's different from other curse words. It has a history."
Other municipalities have already passed similar measures in a debate that rose to a fever pitch late last year after "Seinfeld" actor Michael Richards spewed the word repeatedly at a comedy club in Los Angeles.
At New York's City Hall, supporters cheered passage of the resolution, with many of them wearing pins featuring a single white "N" with a slash through it.
Hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow Walker said when the resolution was proposed that blacks needed to stop using the word so "we can elevate our minds to a better future."
Others argue that use of the word by blacks is empowering; that reclaiming a slur and giving it a new meaning takes away its punch. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, for example, has said that he will not stop using the word and that he does not see anything inappropriate about blacks using it within their own circles.
But in the uproar over Richards' outburst, black leaders including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and California Rep. Maxine Waters said it is impossible to paper over the epithet's origins and ugly history of humiliating blacks. They challenged the public and the entertainment industry to stop using the epithet.
"I forgive those young people who do not know their history, and I blame myself and my generation for not preparing you," Councilman Albert Vann said. "But today we are going to know our history. We are not going to refer to ourselves by anything negative, the way the slave master referred to black people, using the n-word."
New York's action resonated far beyond the city.
In Miramar, Fla., 27-year-old Alexa Cabrera said she hopes the resolution will at least cause people to stop and think about their use of the word.
"It's a derogatory term no matter who uses it. Like if the KKK uses it, it's wrong, but if 50 Cent uses it, it's OK? I don't understand that," said Cabrera, who is black.
Dallas bank manager Ed Romero, who described himself as black and Hispanic, said he would like to see the spirit of the New York resolution spread until the word's use is stamped out.
"It's degrading and disrespectful, and I'd like to see it eliminated completely," Romero said.
A group of black teenagers having lunch in a Dallas mall disagreed, saying the resolution won't affect their use of the word.
"We grew up saying it and it's what I say all the time," said 17-year-old Tiara Smith. "It's not going to stop anybody from saying it."
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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Colleen Long in New York City, Jeff Carlton in Dallas, Kelli Kennedy in Hollywood, Fla., and John Rogers in Los Angeles.


Updated : 2021-10-26 03:54 GMT+08:00