Ban the N-word

ORLANDO, Fla. The head of the nation's oldest and largest black fraternity Saturday called on the black community to ban the N-word from it's vocabulary. The offensive racial epithet should be purged from music lyrics, movie dialogue, talk radio and playgrounds, said Darryl R. Matthews Sr., general president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

"I don't know many ethnic groups other than the black community that use such harsh language with each other and empower other people to think it's OK to use it," Matthews said in an interview following his address to 3,000 fraternity members attending their annual convention in Orlando.

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"The word has evil intent. It's not a term of endearment. It is not just symbolic."

As part of a new policy, Matthews challenged Alpha fraternities on college campuses to exorcise offensive words from their party entertainment.

"We want to go on record and tell our college brethren not to use DJs or play music that contains lyrics that are offensive, demeaning or degrading," he said.

Matthews' remarks are part of a growing movement by black leaders to discourage the use of the term by blacks and whites. The debate started with the outrage over "Seinfeld" comedian Michael Richards' use of the epithet and escalated with the racially derogatory remarks by radio shock jock Don Imus.

Arguing that you can't condemn whites for using the word when blacks also use it, the NAACP last month staged a symbolic burial of the N-word at it's convention in Detroit. Similar burials have been held in Houston and Philadelphia.

In Detroit, Matthews was one of the honorary pallbearers.

Earlier this year, Matthews railed against the influence of "gangsta rap," which he described as "a bomb that is blowing up our children and neighborhoods." On Saturday, he urged parents to listen to the music of their children so they can open a dialogue about negative messages in the lyrics.

"This is not a legislative action. This is a moral attitude action, it's a common-sense action. We have tolerated as much as we can tolerate," said Matthews, 53, who has three sons, ages 18, 20 and 26.

Similarly, Matthews urged "Alpha Men" to talk about the debilitating effects of racist and sexist language when working with the young men they are mentoring. Last year, Matthews set a goal of enlisting 10,000 Alpha Phi Alpha men to become Big Brother mentors.

"These are young people asking for assistance. They are saying, 'I would love an adult to come into my life and show me the way,'" Matthews said.

Founded in 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., Alpha Phi Alpha includes among it's members civil- rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, writer W.E.B. Du Bois, scholar Cornel West, historian John Hope Franklin, former Atlanta Mayors Andrew Young and Maynard Jackson, athlete Jesse Owens, football coach Eddie Robinson and NFL players president Gene Upshaw.

It has always been the mission of the fraternity, Matthews said, to lead, inspire and motivate the black community through positive action. And that includes helping those less fortunate.

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Posted in Law Post Date 10/21/2018






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