Published November 28, 2006
LOS ANGELES – Black leaders on Monday challenged the entertainment industry, including rappers, to stop use of the racial slur that Michael Richards uttered in his tirade.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and others said they will meet with TV networks, film companies and musicians to discuss the "n-word."
"We want to give our ancestors a present," Jackson said at a news conference. "Dignity over degradation."
Jackson also asked the public not to buy a DVD box set of the seventh season of the TV show "Seinfeld" that was released last week.
Richards, who played the wacky neighbor Kramer on "Seinfeld," triggered outrage with a Nov. 17 racial rant against two black men when he was heckled during a stand-up comedy routine at the Laugh Factory nightclub in West Hollywood. A patron recorded the outburst with a video camera phone.
Richards has made several apologies, including one Sunday on Jackson's syndicated radio program, in which he has said he is not a racist and was motivated by anger.
At the press conference, comedian Paul Mooney said he has used the "n-word" numerous times during stand-up performances but will no longer do so after watching Richards' rant.
"He's my Dr. Phil," the black comedian said. "He's cured me."
Asked about free-speech issues, Jackson said the word is "unprotected."
U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., charged that only situations such as the Richards incident turn mainstream media attention to issues involving the black community.
"This is not simply about whether or not the black community forgives or forgets, this is about understanding that this is pervasive, that this happens in all of our institutions, one way or the other," Waters said.