Jerrod Carmichael, Norman Lear Attempt to ‘Take Power Away’ From N-Word

By Kenrya Rankin May 08, 2017

Norman Lear, the White producer behind dozens of television shows including “Sanford and Son,” “All in the Family” and “Good Times,” hosts a new podcast called “All of the Above With Norman Lear.” On today’s (May 8) episode, Lear and his co-host—a White actor named Paul Hipp—welcomed comedian Jerrod Carmichael to the show.

An emailed press released titled “Longtime Activist Norman Lear Removes the Power From the N-Word on New Podcast” explains that on this episode, the trio discussed Carmichael’s plan to use the “n-word” uncensored on his NBC sitcom, “The Carmichael Show.” It’s a move Lear actually made back in 1974, when he had character George Jefferson say it on an “All in the Family”/“The Jeffersons” crossover episode.

Hipp asked if there was resistance to using the word on the show. “It’s some pushback. It’s some concern, but we say it with the best intention,” Carmichael, who is Black, says. “It’s always for the sake of discussion, you know, and that’s what’s fun about this format, is that it’s for the sake of discussion. We want to talk about it, and we want to talk about why you should use it at times and why you shouldn’t use it, and it’s a pretty balanced argument…. I’m really excited that I’m here for this groundbreaking.”

The conversation then turned to “remov[ing] the power our culture gives to the taboo word.” The following transcript comes from the press statement:

Lear: Wouldn’t it be better if the word nigger was available? Making it the worst thing that could ever happen, so that nobody can say anything but the “n-word”—isn’t that a curse on the word and communication?
Carmichael: It’s a curse on the word and childish, and does more harm than good. People think—the intention is it’s stopping hatred, but it doesn’t stop hatred and it doesn’t stop, you know, painful language…. What it does is preserve a word and make it more dangerous…. If we free the word then, perhaps, it will be less dangerous and we—you won’t feel the need to fight the person who says it.
Hipp: Take the power away.
Carmichael: Exactly. Take the power away from it.
Lear: You know what I’d like to do for the audience, who never gets to hear anything but the “n-word?” I’d like to say, in three minutes, one of us will use the n-word, so that they have a chance to call all their friends and let them know that the n-word is going to be spoken in three minutes.
Carmichael: We’re setting our watches? Alright. …

Lear: As a matter of fact, if you have time, you might want to call neighbors, and start a party.
Carmichael: Make it a drinking game, if you will. Take a shot every time we say it. …
Lear: “5…4…3…2…1.”
Lear, Carmichael, Hipp: “Nigger.”
Carmichael: By the way, that may be one of the greatest moments of my life…. I think we’ve done so much for race relations in that moment. A couple of people are angry. Good for them, though. I hope a couple people got angry, and I hope a few—I hope more people felt enlightened.

Listen to the episode below.