NEW YORK (FinalCall.com)–Queens Councilman Leroy Comrie is not like most politicians, in the sense that he won’t take credit for the work that he does, particularly when it comes to his “Ban the n-word Campaign.”
Starting in the first week of February, Councilman Comrie used the backdrop of Black History Month to launch his initiative to have the New York City Council pass a nonbinding measure which called for New Yorkers to voluntarily ban using the “n-word.”
“People are denigrating themselves by using the word, and disrespecting their history, disrespecting the history of a people and a country and also putting themselves in a negative light that we need to correct,” Councilman Comrie told reporters.
The symbolic measure passed unanimously, and has gained some nationwide notice and support. Other municipalities say they are considering a similar measure, and several Black colleges have held conferences to discuss the word. The city councils in Westchester and Nyack, NY have passed the measure and New Jersey cities such as Newark, Irvington and Patterson have followed suit.
“I don’t consider myself a national leader. I am doing what I believe is important, but I deserve no credit for the national attention the ‘n-word’ issue is getting,” Councilman Comrie told The Final Call.
And, with that he simply goes about the business of getting young people to understand that trying to repackage the word as a term of endearment and camaraderie is not the proper thing to do.
“The messages you are currently receiving from the entertainment industry is a celebration of self-hate. They’re saying it’s okay to think less of others and to think less of yourself. And that’s not cool,” the councilman told a gathering of students during a forum held Apr. 18 on Staten Island.
The event was sponsored by the Black Awareness Club of Curtis High School, one of the few schools in the predominately White area that has a Black principal.
Councilman Comrie told the students that the entertainment industry was “manipulating” them. “I would rather young people begin to engage in critical thinking, like all of you are doing today,” he said.
The town-hall like discussion ran about two hours, with students sharing their opinions about the campaign, which ranged from support for the resolution to opposition on the grounds of free speech.
At the conclusion of the forum, over 100 students voluntarily participated in a pledge ceremony in which they vowed to refrain from using the “n-word” and encouraging others to do so as well. Copies of the pledge are available at www.abolishthenword.com.
“The interaction with the students was extremely enjoyable,” the councilman said. “Having the opportunity to engage these young people in a civil, intellectual discussion about the subject, and to see their passion, made this campaign entirely worthwhile,” he added.