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article | n-word pledge pdf file  |  Video clip (YouTube): Def Poetry - Julian Curry | N-word

What's "N" a word?

The racist outburst by famous comedian Michael Richards has produced a national outcry from civil rights leaders and national civil rights groups to ban the use of the "N-word" from all cultural activities. The Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, has stated, "The bigger issue here is that we must challenge all media to stop saying in the records we play and in videos the (n-word). We must move our young people from using this word. We can't go from protesting derogation to getting rich off of self-derogation."

Other leaders like Representative Maxine Waters, actor/comedian Paul Mooney and even local notables like Milele Chikasa Anana, Matt Rothschild and John Quinlan have all spoken out on this issue.

 The consensus opinion is that the time has come to put this highly inflammatory and controversial word to an end in our culture. In conversations I have had with state employees, there is clearly no use for the word in the work place and any mention or allusion to it can bring very forceful consequences on the user. However, there are pockets of playful banter among people who know each other and sometimes joke around in the workplace where this word is still mentioned.

The use of this word can be considered "hate speech" in the State of Wisconsin and as a result, can carry extra penalties. It is important for employees and other stakeholders to be aware that this type of language is offensive whether said in jest or inadvertently, when overheard by others in the workplace or in outings related to work.

It has been mentioned that sometimes African-Americans use a derivative of the term amongst each other without offense but we want to be careful that NO PERSON is made uncomfortable or exposed to an offensive environment by any use of this word. Affirmative Action Officers might find it useful to educate key persons within your agency or campus on the national dialogue going on right now around this issue. Perhaps circulated materials or brown-bag sessions might go a long way towards keeping our workforce current on such an important civil rights issue as this.

- Courtesy of Affirmative Action Live Wire articles
   Office of State Employment Relations (OSER)


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