By Albert Lin
Gossip site TMZ took some comments by music producer/executive Marion "Suge" Knight a step too far by putting up a poll on whether it is preferable to "refer to Black people as" African-Americans or n----s.
With more than 80,000 votes, the N-word is winning 54 percent to 46 percent.
Predictably, response from the Black community has been outrage.
In an editorial of sorts on its website, Ebony wrote: "We're done with TMZ and we hope that any self-respecting Black person who ever visited them for gossip or fun or folly or as a guilty pleasure will say the same. There is no coming back, no apology needed, no sensitivity training, nothing."
Knight told TMZ that certain uses of the N-word are acceptable. He added, "I like [the N-word] better than 'African-American.' We're not from Africa; we're Black. Even Africans don't call themselves African—if they're from Kenya, they say they're Kenyan."
DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti says that only Black Americans can be called African-American, because only they had their personal and family history "purposefully obliterated by people who enslaved other people."
Use of the N-word has been a hot topic this year thanks to celebrity chef Paula Deen's admitting in a deposition that she has used the word. The backlash caused Deen to lose almost all of her business deals, with the likes of Scripps Networks Interactive (owner of Food Network), Target, Walmart, Home Depot and Sears cutting ties with her.
Miami Dolphins football player Richie Incognito also made news for using that and other racially charged language to harass teammate Jonathan Martin.
In a separate interview, Public Enemy front man Chuck D told TMZ that he does not believe the N-word can be used as loosely as Knight suggested. "Being called Black in America is the struggle to keep us moving and breathing over bloody water," he said. "Being a [N-word] without the context of history is like drowning in bloody water, dragging down those yet knowing to swim."