NYC Bans “N-Word”

Reuters, Feb. 28, 2007

New York City symbolically banned use of the “n-word” on Wednesday, the latest step in a campaign that hopes to expunge the most vile of racial slurs from hip hop music and television.

The City Council unanimously declared a moratorium that carries no penalty but aims to stop youth from casually using the word, considered by most Americans to be the most offensive in the English language.

The New York City measure follows similar resolutions this month by the New York state assembly and state senate, and supporters of the ban are taking their campaign to The Recording Academy, asking it not to nominate musicians for Grammy awards if they use the word in their lyrics.

Many rap artists and young New Yorkers toss the word around as a term of endearment or as a substitute for black, angering some black leaders who consider those who use it as ignorant of the word’s hate-filled history in slavery and segregation.

“This Could Be The Beginning Of A Movement,” Councilman Albert Vann Said.

Councilman Leroy Comrie, a sponsor of the moratorium, said the campaign against the word has gained strength since comedian Michael Richards spewed it in a racially charged tirade in Los Angeles.

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Comrie also asked TV network Black Entertainment Television to stop using the word in its shows. Representatives of BET did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Grammy spokesman said he doubted the academy’s 11,000 voting members would support any measure that might censor artists.

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