NAACP plans to give ‘n-word’ a funeral

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Brian DeBose

The NAACP will hold a sym­bolic funeral for the “n-word” at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual con­ven­tion in July as a part of its na­tional Stop Cam­paign to end the preva­lence of racist and sex­ist lan­guage, images and con­cepts in the me­dia.

“Our unit in the youth and col­lege di­vi­sion is di­rect­ing this, and they are fo­cus­ing on how badly blacks and other eth­nic mi­nori­ties are treated in the me­dia in movies, on television and in the mu­sic as well,” said Hi­lary Shel­ton, the group’s Wash­ing­ton Bureau di­rec­tor.

Hold­ing sym­bolic fu­ner­als to demon­strate the end of a racially dis­crim­i­na­tory prac­tice is com­mon prac­tice for the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple when they be­gin a cam­paign. In the 1960s, the NAACP held a funeral for the seg­re­ga­tion­ist Jim Crow poli­cies in the South, and most re­cently held a funeral for voter ap­a­thy.

“The funeral for the ‘n-word’ has been part of the NAACP na­tional pro­gram­ming for the last sev­eral months,” said the group’s spokesman Richard McIntire.

He said the first one was held at the Mid-At­lantic re­gional con­fer­ence in Chat­tanooga, Tenn., fol­lowed by a sec­ond at the New Eng­land re­gional con­fer­ence in Hartford, Conn.

The cam­paign emerged af­ter ra­dio per­son­al­ity Don Imus made dis­parag­ing re­marks about the Rut­gers women’s bas­ket­ball team.

“It fits very well with our Stop Cam­paign turn­ing the cor­ner and go­ing be­yond the Imus con­tro­versy and tak­ing per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity to stop the deroga­tory speech and images in hip-hop mu­sic and videos and other me­dia,” Mr. McIntire said.

The tar­gets of the cam­paign are the record and television in­dus­tries, record­ing artists and the black com­mu­nity. Its mis­sion is to get those in­dus­tries and black peo­ple to vol­un­tar­ily stop tol­er­at­ing the use of deroga­tory terms for women — com­mon­place in pop­u­lar rap record­ings — and to stop sup­port­ing or ex­ces­sively por­tray­ing hurt­ful images of the black com­mu­nity.

Mr. Imus lost his television and ra­dio shows af­ter his re­marks were de­nounced as racist by the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Black Jour­nal­ists, the Rev. Jesse Jack­son and the Rev. Al Sharp­ton. Both crit­ics and sup­port­ers of Mr. Imus called at­ten­tion to the fact that his re­marks about the Rut­gers women were sim­i­lar to those used by many black hip-hop per­form­ers.

But the NAACP’s cam­paign goes be­yond Mr. Imus and the up­roar caused ear­lier this year when co­me­dian Michael Richards — who played Kramer on the pop­u­lar sit­com “Se­in­feld” — re­sponded to heck­lers by shout­ing racial ep­i­thets.

The NAACP’s cam­paign calls on young peo­ple to stand up against any­one who ar­gues that words are not hurt­ful, and calls for in­creased di­ver­sity in the mu­sic and television in­dus­tries.

“As African-Amer­i­can peo­ple with a proud her­itage and promis­ing des­tiny, we have to re­spect our­selves and stop dis­re­spect­ing each other,” said NAACP Na­tional Youth & Col­lege Di­vi­sion Di­rec­tor Stefanie L. Brown. “The time has come for us to stop us­ing and re­spond­ing to deroga­tory words.”

Co­me­dian Michael Richards of “Se­in­feld” fame made na­tional news ear­lier this year for re­peat­edly drop­ping the “n-word” while on stage at a com­edy club.

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