Roundtable: Bush on Palestinian Elections, Kanye West

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Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco, professor of globalization and education and co-director, immigration studies at NYU; George Curry, editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service; and ER Shipp, Lawrence Stessin distinguished professor in journalism, Hofstra University School of Communication. They discuss the latest presidential news conference and Kanye West's controversial new magazine cover.

ED GORDON, host:

We all know the controversy caused when someone uses the N-word, but commentator John McCann says it wasn't so long ago that African Americans didn't mind be called another N-word.

JIM McCANN, reporting:

Remember that song from the playground, I'm not a, and we'd insert the N-word here. So, from the top, it's like, I'm not a N-word; I'm a Negro. When I become a N-word, I'll let you know. It's an oldie, but not so goodie based on response from folks upset after 60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney said nothing's wrong with calling black folks Negroes. So, here we go again.

Black people, man, we have the toughest time with racial semantics. We can't figure out what to call ourselves. It's like a science. You almost need an advanced degree to figure out. I mean, when I'm at work, where there are only seven black people in the entire newsroom, if we're all there at the same time, then, let's see, I probably shouldn't use the N-word, right? Because it will give the white people in the cubicles around me license to say the same.

Now, when my black coworkers are riding to lunch in the same car, then I'm free to let the N-bombs flow. But, Negro is not an n-bomb. Yet Andy's remarks last year on Dons Imus's Morning Show point out just how explosive the word is when a white guy wields it. The word was on the lips of many with the recent broadcast of the United Negro College Fund Telethon and the death of the signature of the spokesman, the soulful Lou Rawls. May the lord comfort his family.

(Soundbite of song, "The Negro National Anthem")

McCANN: All right, we got another song for you. Lift every voice and sing...

All right, you get the idea. Tell me, what's the name of that song?

What did you say? A little bit louder for me. Mm-hmm, got you, made you say, made you say Negro, The Negro National Anthem.

But if it wasn't a bad word when James Weildon Johnson wrote the song, then what makes it so bad rolling off the lips of a white guy like Andy Rooney?

Dig what I'm saying. Jackie Robinson all those cats didn't have a problem playing baseball in the Negro League. They was no shame in Lou Rawls' game when he got down with the United Negro College fun. I'm reminded of an editorial cartoon but University of Florida student.

It showed Kanye West literally holding a race card, playing up the rapper's comments about President Bush's slow response to black hurricane Katrina survivors in New Orleans. But, the cartoon also depicted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice retorting, nigga, please. Granted, I'm no fan of the n-word, when you think of prim and proper Condoleezza Rice saying it, you have to at least chuckle.

So, don't trip just because a white boy draws a cartoon. Chris Rock has said the same thing and you just about pee in your pants from laughing so hard. I'm telling you, better be careful what you ask for. Remember that Texas Congresswoman several years ago wanted more black-sounding hurricane name? Don't you know how she felt when old Trina blew through?

And speaking of what we call ourselves, if we're going to get all huffy with

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