NAACP president defends context of governor's use of slur

Cuomo said "n-word" during live radio interview

Mike Baggerman
October 16, 2019 - 1:50 pm

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Governor Andrew Cuomo's controversial comments during a Tuesday interview on WAMC Radio have revived the discussion about the use of the racial term.

The governor quoted an opinion piece in the New York Times and used the "n-word" while talking about slurs that were often directed at Italians.

"They used an expression that southern Italians were called, I believe they were saying southern Italians, Sicilians — I’m half Sicilian — were called, quote-unquote – and pardon my language, but I’m just quoting the Times – ‘(N-Word) wops,’” Cuomo said.

The use of the word, even in context, is drawing a split reaction. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who is black, took no offense to the comments. However, Black Institute President Bertha Lewis said that the governor appears to think he has so much privilege he can say anything.

Buffalo NAACP President and Pastor, Mark Blue, said the governor's use of the word in context was not done in a malicious way.

"If we really want to get technical about it, the article should have never had it in it," Blue said. "I don't see any problem with that being used in that context, in a comparison context."

While it is culturally inappropriate for a white person to use the word, Blue suggested that Cuomo's lineage played a part in the use of the word.

"Is he a white American or is he an Italian American?" Blue asked. "I can see if he was just a white American. In that statement, he was quoting a passage from an article. It wasn't done in a malicious way. I don't see him having the need to apologize on that particular fact."

Blue said that even though he is a person of color, he does not like to use the word and said people can come up with better words than that.

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