As soon as the n-word left his mouth, Michael Richards should have known his career would be over. Probably not since baseball player John Rocker gave his two cents on the people of New York in a 2000 Sports Illustrated interview has a public person offended so many people and created such media buzz at the same time. Richards’ rant at the Laugh Factory in West Hollywood on Nov. 17 caused major disturbance in the black community, leading to many black leaders calling for an end of the use of the n-word. Rev. Jesse Jackson has vowed to fight public use of the word, but offered no specifics on how.
The n-word is a negatively charged word that for many has become a symbol for slavery, racism and bigotry in general. Black comedians, actors and rappers use the word on a daily basis in their work and forcing them not to use it anymore is going to be a tough task. Imagine seeing a Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle stand-up show without them using the n-word. It would still be funny, but something would be missing.
Consumers of the media and entertainment world have been so conditioned to the word that is goes undetected most of the time, but when someone who is not supposed use it, like Richards, everything stops like somebody just dragged the needle across a LP player and stopped the music. But just like at parties, it is awkward for a brief moment and then the music starts playing again and everything goes back to normal. The same thing goes for the Richards rant. It is upsetting and uncomfortable right now, but people will forget about it and the whole ban-the-n-word campaign will go away. Richards’ career is probably over, again, but that is a given. As far as banning the n-word from public use, however, consistency is needed.
Saying that you want to put an end to the use of the n-word is the politically correct thing to do, but it is going to take a lot of dedication to do it. Imagining the rap industry without the n-word is pretty hard, especially when listening to a rap CD and counting the times you hear it throughout the album. Not to say it is impossible, because when you hear the songs on the radio or watch the music video, the n-word has either been censored or replaced and it works most of the time. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart had a comical skit last week saying that banning the n-word would be taking away the main source of income for some black entertainers like Rock.
Jackson and some of his peers have taken a huge task upon themselves trying to put an end to the n-word, but it is possible as long as they do not expect it to happen over night. There will need to be campaigns put together targeting the youth, but not just Black children.
Nowadays you can hear White, Asian and Latino children and teens calling each other the n-word amongst friends all the time. People of all races need to jump onboard this cause and it needs the support of the Black entertainers who are known for using it the most.