2004 | Trio and Post Consumer Media
This documentary provides an in depth look at one of the most inflammatory words in the English language. It couples history, personal accounts and candid debates about the origins and contemporary use of the N-word. Opening with a montage in which the word is repeatedly uttered, viewers are confronted with powerful and conflicting sounds of hatred and affection. But this program does more than discuss the historical roots of the term; it examines current use in popular culture, asking if the re-appropriation of the N-word by many young white and black, hip-hop inspired youth has stripped away its power to insult and enrage. Writer/Director Todd Williams traces the history of the racial slur to the 17th century and uses cultural critics, comedians, actors and musical artists to debate the pros and cons of the word’s use today. Comedians Chris Rock, Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg and George Carlin, many of whom challenged the negative connotations associated with the word, figure prominently in these discussions. Also appearing with commentary are actors Samuel L. Jackson, LeVar Burton and Regina King, hip-hop artists Ice Cube, Talib Kweli and Chuck D, activist Dick Gregory, news personality Bryant Gumbel and scholars Alvin Poussaint, Robin D.G. Kelley, Todd Boyd and Donald Bogle. Andrew Cohen and Helena Echegoyen served as executive producers on this project, with producers Nelson George and Samuel Paul. For creative use of spoken word, personal narratives, and historical footage to show how this racial epithet continues to spark controversy and debate in America, a Peabody Award goes to The N-Word.
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