Thursday, March 01, 2007

New York to ban the 'N' word

Jay-Z defends using the word. But not all rappers agree anymore.

Reuters report that New York City has banned use of the word nigger.

The City Council unanimously declared a moratorium that carries no penalty but aims to stop youth from casually using the word.

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.

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.

"The Michael Richards incident really brought it to another level. It has forced people to express their outrage. Many people had been seething quietly," Comrie said.

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.

"They are not going to be supportive of something that excludes someone simply because they are using a word that is offensive," said Ron Roecker, vice president of communication for the Recording Academy.

The city resolution calling for the moratorium traces the etymology of the word from the Latin "niger," meaning black, to its first documented written use in 1786 as a term slave masters used to label their African slaves.

Use of the word by blacks exploded with the rise of rap music in recent years, and some black comedians like Chris Rock continue to use it in their routines.

Rock said politicians were trying to divert attention from real problems: "Enough real bad things happen in this city to worry about how I am going to use the word."

Difficult one.

It is undoubtedly the most inflammatory word in the English language. But it has always struck me as hypocritical that whites are banned from using it whilst working class blacks use it liberally. Rappers like Jay-Z thrive on the word as they understand that their target audience (white teenagers) think it uber-cool if used by a black guy, even if it is too risque to be used by themselves.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a civil rights group, condemns use of both nigga and nigger.

However, no matter how offensive word 'nigger' is, it is only a word and you just CANNOT BAN WORDS.

Now dead rapper, Tupac Shakur, defined the NIGGA as an acronym:

"Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished"

Positive, and focused. Sounds alright by me.