Sparks were flying Monday on “CNN Tonight” when conservative commentator Ben Ferguson took on liberal Marc Lamont Hill and top rapper Trinidad James over the “N-word,” arguing that whites who use it face social disgrace while black performers make millions of dollars doing exactly the same thing.
“If I use the N-word it could quite possibly, and honestly probably should, cost me my career,” Ferguson said. “I don’t understand why … you’re rapping about the word and making money off it.”
James is the rapper behind the song “All Gold Everything,” a 2-year-old rap that says the word “nigger” repeatedly. It’s in the news again because a video has surfaced of the 79-year-old house mother of the University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter chanting the song’s lyrics.
That fraternity, of course, ignited a national uproar when its racist chant was posted on the Internet last week.
James argued that it was his creative talent that made money, not the simple repetition of a racial slur, but Ferguson wasn’t holding back.
“You wouldn’t be on the show tonight if wasn’t for using the n-word in your rap music,” he told James. “Let’s be honest.”
But Lamont Hill interjected.
“He wouldn’t be on the show tonight if a white woman hadn’t said the n-word on tape,” he said.
But no one throughout the lengthy panel discussion answered Feruson’s essential point.
“You say that word and everybody laughs,” he said. “I use that word, my career’s over …
“Every time someone says it, we have massive news about it if it’s the wrong skin color.”
And the bottom line is, that’s about as good a description of “racism” as there is.
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