Tensions ran high Monday night as a panel of guests debated racial relations and use of the n-word during a segment on CNN.
The segment was in response to the recent incident out of the University of Oklahoma, where members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were caught reciting a racist chant. Later it was revealed that house mom Beauton Gilbow had repeatedly said the n-word while rapping to the song "All Gold Everything" by Trinidad James.
CNN host Don Lemon invited James onto his program to discuss use of the n-word. The panel also featured Marc Lamont Hill and conservative commentator Ben Ferguson.
Ferguson immediately went after James for repeatedly using the n-word in his music and called for people to stop using the word altogether.
"I'll be honest with you," Ferguson told James. "I think you know that we should probably get rid of the n-word, but in reality, I think many rappers are afraid they will lose out on money and sales and street cred if they don't stop using the word."
"I'm making money off of doing music and being creative, sir," James responded. "I'm not making money just because I use the n-word. Nobody goes to buy an album because it's full of the n-word."
"Trinidad, you wouldn't be on this show tonight if it wasn't for using the n-word in your rap music," Ferguson countered.
Hill then sprung into the debate.
"First of all, he wouldn't be on the show if a white woman hadn't said the n-word on a tape, so that's not fair," he said.
"Which was on his music," Ferguson quipped.
"No, let me finish Ben! First of all, people were saying n***er before Trinidad was born. And to sit and say that the n-word has become divisive is absurd. The n-word is born out of slavery, it's born out of white supremacy," Hill said.
"I'm agreeing with you," Ferguson answered.
"No! No you're not! Just listen! This is the problem. When we start talking about issues of race and racism — sometimes white people need to just listen! Just hear what I'm saying for a minute Ben," Hill said.
"What I'm saying is the n-word isn't divisive, white supremacy is divisive. Slavery was divisive. That's the problem. And maybe, just maybe, it's not white people's position to tell black people what to say! I might see Trinidad James on the street and call him 'my n***er.' You know why? Because he is my n***er. And the difference between Trinidad James and you, is that Trinidad James has to deal with the same oppressive situations, he's born to a world where anti-black racism prevails, he lives in a world where police might shoot him on the street no matter how much money he has — we share a collective condition known as n***er. White people don't. I'm not saying it should be illegal for white people to use it, I'm saying you all shouldn't want to use it given everything that's happened after 400 years of exploitation and institutional racism," Hill concluded.
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