Michael Richards Fallout Reaches Knoxville

By: Gary Loe
By: Gary Loe

More fallout from the Michael Richards scandal. Jesse Jackson is calling on everyone, including the entertainment industry to stop using the racial slur Richards used against hecklers in a Los Angeles comedy club.

Jackson told reporters they'll meet with t-v networks, film companies and musicians to talk about the "N word." Jackson is also asking the public not to buy a DVD box set of "Seinfeld's" seventh season.
Richards, meanwhile, has made several apologies, including one Monday on Jackson's radio show.

Volunteer TV's Gary Loe visited with UT students Tuesday night during their campus NAACP meeting to get their take on the N word issue, and he came away with some interesting responses.

Students attending the UT chapter's NAACP meeting on campus express strong reactions to comedian Michael Richards' recent slur used against hecklers during his comedy act.

"He needs to apologize to the black audience members that he called the N word to," one attendee said.

"I just question whether or not his apology is legitimate," another attendee said.

Upset about the N word use by a white comedian, many of these UT students we talked with say they agree with Jesse Jackson's call to ban the word by everyone including hip-hop artists.

"Right now, some use it as a term of endearment, but it can be confused within different cultures, so if we just eliminated the use of the word altogether, there would be no confusion," UTK NAACP president Jonathan Reid said.

Last school year, UT student NAACP members promoted their own ban of the word.

"It's something that's had a really negative impact on our community and the fact that we took the word and made it okay for our community just further emphasizes the negativity about the word, and there's nothing positive about it," UTK NAACP member Jerica Maclin said.

Used by whites, the word is considered an offensive racial remark. However, many blacks freely use the word in song lyrics or during their comedy routines.

"I still feel it's offensive, even though it's used as commonplace. I think it just doesn't need to happen," meeting attendee Ryan Self said.

Still other UT students differ and oppose abolishing the N word.

"It does have a historical context, but it also has a very realistic context, it just means an ignorant person," UTK NAACP member Laura McCrae said.

Meantime, many here will encourage others to drop the N word from their vocabularies. The new president of Knoxville's NAACP attended Tuesday night's student group meeting. The Reverend Ezra Maize tells Volunteer TV that he also supports a ban on the N word.


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