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Mum's the Word on N-Word for Funnymen

12/3/2006 2:02 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Has Michael Richards' racist rant made the n-word forbidden comedy fruit? How taboo is it, really? Is it taboo enough for the biggest, brashest African-American comics to ban it from their own acts?

TMZ contacted Dave Chappelle, DL Hughley, Bernie Mac, Cedric the Entertainer and Katt Williams through their reps, and their response was uncharacteristically laconic. Last week, comedy vet Paul Mooney, who was a writing partner of Richard Pryor, and who appeared on "Chappelle's Show," said he was forsaking the word in his comedy henceforth -- but since then, none of his younger colleagues have taken a similar pledge.

One source, who has worked with almost all of the comics, tells TMZ that Richards' screed will probably end up being a boon to all of them, providing them not just with material, but stoking interest in their acts -- and whether they'll use the word and how often. The renewed focus on the n-word and its implications will, says our source, no doubt give the word itself added piquancy on stage, "until it becomes calloused and overused again."

109 COMMENTS

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76.

Bridget    

You all keep throwing it back in our faces about how us "WHITE PEOPLE" made the n*gger word up. Well, here's a tid bit of information to all of you...that was how many years and how many ancetries ago? HELLO?! GET OVER IT! The wod is out there ok? If you dont want to hear then don't say it. I don't care if your black, white, yellow, pink, orange or grey...dont use the word. BLACKS can call each other that but when a WHITE person does all hell breaks loose?LOL!!! God, get over it!

2846 days ago
77.

Deb    

Why is it that when we try to not discriminate we are racist for not showing "respect" to black history? Yet, if we try to discuss racism, on a mature level, we are racist for bringing it up. There seems to be such a double standard and no matter what we say, someone of color finds a way to make it about (against) them.

2846 days ago
78.

Deb    

If you don't like a certain word (whatever that word is) don't be a hypocrite and use the word yourself!!! If a word bothers you so much than why in Gods name would it EVER even be in your own vocabulary! Practice what you preach and stop being hypocritical! If I was offended by a word (any word) then I sure as hell would use plain common sense and not use the word myself.

2846 days ago
79.

Ann    

Americans want the world to believe that they are so smart but most of you on this site can't seem to grasp some basic concepts. To be honest, I think most of you are just pretending not to get it. It's not the use of the word n*gger that's offensive... it's the intention. For the most part when a white person uses it, it comes from a place of prejudice and is meant to be hurtful. When black people use it, it isn't.

However I do know of instances where white people have used the word and there has been no problem because their intention wasn't one that was racially motivated. I also know of black people who have used it to degrade other black people and that has been a cause of contention. So stop PRETENDING like you people don't understand that!!! When Michael Richards used the word, it came from a place of HATE. That was obvious.

2846 days ago
80.

Ann    

Oh and as for "slavery, get over it". Yes slavery is dead but it's aftereffects continue to this day. The opportunities that are available to white people aren't available to black people. That is a fact! That's why things like BET and Miss BLACK America etc. are around. Because black people are trying to CREATE opportunity in a country that claims to have freed them on paper but has enslaved them (still) in reality. Black people are still at the beck and call of white people. You don't need a White NBC or a Miss WHITE America etc. because it's understood that the majority of people that benefit from their existence are caucasian! That's not a hard concept to understand either...

2846 days ago
81.

LS    

Michael Richards is a n*gger.

2846 days ago
82.

breezy    

WORDS HURT SOMETIMES WORSE THAN A BULLET

2846 days ago
83.

JolieIsFake    

Blacks are unreal. They want all this freaking pity and want everyone to bow down to them because their ancestors were treated badly. Duh! Treated badly by their own yet they want to blame the whites. I'm so sick of hearing how they can't get ahead. Perhaps they should pay attention to the blacks who learn to speak where you can understand them and actually go to school and learn in order to get ahead. You can't find a black, you've got a lawsuit if you do. Hell, if you don't hire one they sue even if they don't have the experience needed for the position. Then they get out in the streets and protest any and everything they can think of and make complete fools of them and turn around and want respect? Nah.

2846 days ago
84.

sam    

Educated black people do not need to use the N-word. Educated white people don't need to use foul language to express themselves. I wonder which category you fall into, or out of as the case may be. Get educated and learn to use more appropriate words to express yourselves and someone might actually finish reading your entire post. I quit reading the posts once they degrade into derogatory remarks. I think a lot of other readers do as well.

2846 days ago
85.

Seriously    

Blacks will complain FOREVER about slavery. And they're smart in the fact
that they know how to work the welfare system. Freebies are they're middle name.
They go to restaurants in parties of 10, eat, make a scene saying the food was no
good so they don't have to pay. I've seen it happen many, many times.
PUHLEASE. It's a vicious circle. The parents live off the government and
pop out kids like rabbits, who in turn do the exact same thing and then they
blame the white taxpapers who are supporting them!!!

2846 days ago
86.

PDX    

Tracee... you first post, (78) I agree with 100%. I don't understand why that can't get through to some people.

However, your second post (79), is an argument that needs further delving into. I am not black, so obviously I will never understand or experience what you may have gone through in your life. And I will never deny what happened in our country's history, nor will I deny that blacks were heavily discriminated against in the past. Discrimination still exists to this day, but to the extent, I believe much less than perhaps you do. I work and live in the corporate environment where decisions to hire and fire happen everyday (I work in Human Resources for a large company). I have done so for the last 10 years, in addition to 10 years prior experience in other fields. I have helped managers hire and fire people of all races. I have been deeply involved in the hiring and firing of probably 1000 people. Not once have I had reason to believe that an employee was being hired, fired, promoted or disciplined was being done on the basis of a protected class (age, race, religion, etc.). Sure there may have been intentions that I did not know about, but my job has always required that I make these managers prove their decisions. Again, never had reason to believe discrimination (other than on appearance, which I will explain in a minute) was occurring.

Ok, I realize that just because my experience shows a low probability of discrimination occurring, it doesn't mean that it isn't happening elsewhere. I would say that it probably is more likely to happen with smaller employers, where perhaps you have a less educated and diverse workforce to begin with. Anyway, my main point is that of ALL the professional/educated people I have ever encountered (and those are the circles I run in), I have never come across any that either practiced or said they had a preference for whites. Now, "appearance", sure I have heard that used. For example, "we need someone who is more attractive for the front desk," or "that person did not dress appropriately." That, I have seen, but not based on race. Unlike 50 years ago, we have a new breed of educated professionals that are running corporate America (where the "good jobs" are) these days.... one that is much more in favor of diversity than I think you realize. Some of it was forced via Affirmative Action, sure, but again, I don't know any educated professionals these days that only want to hire whites.

I read an interesting study that was done recently. When a group of blacks and hispanics both read 2 similar stories. In one story, a black man was denied a job. In another story, a hispanic man was denied a job. Again, very similar stories, albeit different nationalities represented. When the group of blacks were asked why they thought the black and then the hispanic were not offered jobs, a very high percentage said "they were both probably discriminated against." When the hispanics were asked the same question, a much much lower percentage thought it was due to discrimination, even the story based on the hispanic. I wish I knew where I could find the article, as I am probably not telling it well. However, the study's conclusion was that blacks (much more than other minorities) may have a tendency to feel that they and other minorities are being discriminated against. EVEN WHEN the individual who didn't get the job wasn't black (i.e., hispanc in this case). I hope I didn't muddle that... it's still early. LOL

Obviously, "40 acres and a mule" was a joke. Affirmative Action has only been so successful too and has growing criticisms of its effectiveness. I guess I don't have the answer on how we "make up" for the past treatment. I know one thing, we (as in the people who are making the most hiring/firing decisions) are breeding less racists than ever before. If anything, we WANT to give people a shot... give them a chance... but that does not take away from the responsibilities of each person as an individual to make the best of where their mind can take them.

2846 days ago
87.

diana    

The N word is the N word, don't matter who uses it, its stupid when someone says N*gga is okay but not N*gger.. It still stems from the same thing. WAKE UP MY BLACK PEOPLE !!!. REAL INTELLIGENT BLACK PEOPLE LIKE BILL COSBY DOESNT USE THAT WORD BUT YOU HAVE GHETTO FABOULOUS RAPPERS AND COMEDIANS USING IT.. NOT ALL BLACKS USES THAT WORK, I DON'T, IF WE CONTINUE USING THAT NEGATIVE WORD THEN DON'T GET MAD WHEN OTHER RACES USES IT, REGARDLESS IF THEY USE N*GGA OR N*GGER, ITS STILL THE SAME THING. WHAT HAPPENED TO USING MY BROTHA?? THAT'S WHAT THEY USED TO SAY BACK IN THE 70'S BUT NO, WE HAVE TO USE MY N*GGA, MAN, ITS SLAVERY MENTALITY 100%, NOTHING YOU CAN SAY WILL JUSTIFY THIS, N*GGA IS ANOTHER ONE FOR N*GGER, THERE IS NO EMPOWERMENT IN THIS WORD JUST STUPIDITY

2846 days ago
88.

diana    

i'm actually glad Michael Richards flipped out, it was wrong what he did but if its going to make the African community more aware of not using that word then so be it, i'm glad he flipped out, more and more comedians and celebs are not using N*gger or N*gga word anymore. IF we actually stopped calling it the N word then I feel more people won't be so quick to use it. People do what is taboo.

2845 days ago
89.

Open Mind    

This comment is for the idiot who jotted down number 63!! Let's not go into discussing leaders who make mistakes. Not only do the black ones make mistakes but the white as well! President Clinton got his dick sucked and loved it while he was smoking some marijuana and the list could go on. Murderers, Rapist, Idiots, Bitches, etc all exist in all races. So stop making this a black and white thing and focus on how you are going to contribute to a worthy cause other then TMZ!!!

2845 days ago
90.

Ann    

To: Let's move forward

THANK YOU!!!! Finally... someone who can disagree and argue their point without having to resort to racist retorts. People don't understand that the best way to get a point across is to argue it intelligently.

First of all, let me say that I do agree that there are times when I feel black people pull the race card when there is no need for it. It comes from a place of paranoia though. However, we have to realise that we are shaped by our past. Fears don't come to us from out of the blue. Even if we don't remember why, they are there because the brain recognises a familiar situation that it deemed to be hurtful in the past. I may be afraid of committment because of some past indiscression. I may be afraid of heights because of something that happened in my past that made me realise that I don't like being 50 stories above the ground. Our personalities are shaped by our experiences. That being said, the same can apply to a race, in general. Black people may be paranoid because, in the past, that's how it happened and it's difficult to decipher whether or not it is happening to you again. The thing about paranoia is that if it's there there's nothing you can do to stop it from taking over. No employer is going to admit (in this day and age) that the reason they didn't hire someone is because of their skin colour. I have a very good friend that is a light skinned black. She is always doing all kinds of funky things with her hair. Anyway, at one point in time, she had it straight and blonde. Somehow, white people get confused about race when they are around a light skinned black person. Anyway, they thought that she was white and they started to talk about black people and how they would never hire a black person and that they wanted to "keep it in the family". She said they went on so badly that she was too embarrassed to tell them that she was black (she wasn't even an employee and they were talking that way in her presence). So it does happen.

Opportunities are getting better for black people though as time goes by. Alot of this has to do with legislation. Now many people are required to have a certain number of black people in their institution. If that weren't the case, believe me, black people would still be held at bay. Alot of black people are becoming successful in their own and are opening the door for other black people (hence the reason I made the point about the relevance of BET and Mis BLACK America). Slavery only ended 200+ years ago. In the grand scheme of things, that was only yesterday. Remember that they were freed but given nothing. They started with zero and as easy as it seems to earn money nowadays, it actually takes a long time to accumulate wealth (that is unless someone is willing to open up doors for you). Everytime a door gets slammed in your face, you start all over again.

Look at someone like Oprah. Look at an Oprah post on this website. Here is a black woman that has made it and made it big. She has done so much to help others along the way. She has raised awareness, she has built a school in Africa, even something as simple as her book club has allowed authors that have otherwise been ignored to get recognition. She has used her wealth in a positive way and has opened doors for many (not just black people but all people). What do you see whan you read the comments under an Oprah story? N*gger, Oreo, B*tch etc. The only posts on here that invoke this kind of name calling are posts that have to do with black people. Whether or not the story being commented on is about race. Black people do have it rough. Damned if they do damned if they don't . Get over slavery? Bob Marley said we have to "EMANCIPATE OURSELVES FROM MENTAL SLAVERY" That is the #1 problem in America. People are still mentally enslaved.

2845 days ago
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