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Comrie, speaking at a news conference on the steps of City Hall last Thursday, said he hopes to use the resolution to start a conversation in New York City about the racial epithet, with an emphasis on educating young students about the word's history."We want them to understand their self-esteem is diminished every time they use this word," Comrie said. "So many young people in my district are using this word so horribly."The adults at Comrie's news conference included Borough President Helen Marshall, Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, and several members of the Queens delegation. They universally spoke out against the casual use of the "N word," arguing that young people and entertainers who employ it in song and daily conversations are disconnected from the subjugation and hatred from which the word was born.The resolution has clearly resonated among the older set in southeast Queens and Comrie received a standing ovation Friday when he was introduced at the unveiling of the new Ella Fitzgerald Black Heritage stamp. But some in the hip-hop community - where the word is used liberally, often pronounced "Niggah," with an emphasis on the "ah" - argue that in using the word as part of urban slang, the word has been appropriated and has become a term of endearment. This argument was roundly rejected last Thursday."We can't take away that pain, we need to keep it in our hearts and remember where it came from," said hip-hop pioneer Curtis "Kurtis Blow" Walker.Comrie said he decided to introduce the resolution after watching a clip of the actor Michael Richards - he played Kramer on "Seinfeld" - who recently delivered a racially tinged tirade at the Laugh Factory in Los Angeles.Richard Basciano, the owner of the Laugh Factory, which has a location in New York, said the word has been banned at his comedy club. When asked about comedic greats like Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and Eddie Murphy, who used the "N word" during their routines, Basciano was unfazed."Anyone who uses it won't be asked back," Basciano said.Reach reporter Craig Giammona by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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