Abolish â€œNâ€? Word Project
As the proclamation points out, there are few words that have a more negative connotation or carry more emotional baggage than the N-word. Born during slavery â€“ one of the ugliest chapters in US history â€“ it thrived well into the 20th century despite a surge in racial pride in the 1960s that quelled, for a while, its use.
How do you begin a City Council meeting in which a resolution declaring a symbolic moratorium on the use of the â€œN-wordâ€? is passed? By awarding a proclamation to the Abolish the â€œNâ€? Word Project for its tireless efforts to erase this notorious racial epithet from spoken language.
As the proclamation points out, there are few words that have a more negative connotation or carry more emotional baggage than the N-word. Born during slavery â€“ one of the ugliest chapters in US history â€“ it thrived well into the 20th century despite a surge in racial pride in the 1960s that quelled, for a while, its use. Today, the word continues to be used.
â€œAt a time when the N-word still remains a painful reminder of our dark past, we are truly fortunate to have the Abolish the N Word Project, Inc. fighting to minimize its use,â€? the proclamation states. â€œUnder the superb leadership of Jill Merritt and Kovon Flowers, the Abolish the N Word Project works tirelessly to raise awareness of its historically negative effects and to discourage its use in art, culture and everyday language.â€?
The organization encourages members of the community to make a personal commitment to avoid using the N-word as well as to educate others; to appeal to record labels and recording artists to remember the history of the N-word and the sacrifices made by the elders; and to limit its use to educational purposes only. â€œCombating racial hatred is a difficult task,â€? the proclamation concludes, â€œbut we are lucky to be joined in this battle by the Abolish the N Word Project.â€?
Deputy Majority Leader Leroy Comrie, the prime sponsor of the resolution in the New York City Council, was elated to see it not only pass, but pass unanimously in the 51-member Council, which includes a 25-member Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. Comrie also expressed surprise at the widespread attention the resolution attracted outside the City Council since it has no enforcement teeth except the power of moral persuasion.
"It has stirred what it was intended to - discussion," Comrie declared. â€œOur month-long campaign has succeeded in raising awareness about the issue, thereby sending the message that as a community, we are no longer going to stand by silently and watch our children wallow in cultural ignorance.â€?
Comrie went on to say that he looks forward to continuing to work with his colleagues in the Council, community leaders, and youth organizations across the City to spread the message that the N-word is not cool. â€œIt is my hope that this resolution will help to send that message and encourage all New Yorkers to join this movement,â€? he said.
Among the other councilmembers who rose in support of the resolution was veteran legislator and civil rights activist Al Vann, who stated, "This is not just a resolution; this could be the beginning of a movement." He noted that those who use the N-word casually are often too young to remember the civil rights struggle. Therefore, he appealed â€œto all people, and particularly the hip-hop culture, that they would respect who we are, where we've been, and that they no longer use that N-word."
Council Member John Liu, the single Asian in the Council, called the N-word "the vilest word in the English language" and expressed his wholehearted support of the moratorium on its use.
For more information about the Abolish the â€œNâ€? Word Project, Inc. and its work, visit www.AbolishTheNword.com.
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