As details regarding the trial of George Zimmerman continue to be thrown about by talking heads looking to increase their fifteen minutes of fame, the debate over racial slurs has heated up as well. CNN decided to have a debate Monday (July1) over the “n-word” and “cracker” slurs, and attempted to have a serious discussion over which term was more offensive.
CNN’s Don Lemon moderated a panel discussion titled “N-Word vs. Cracker: Which Is Worse?,” featuring the likes of Marc Lamont Hill, LeVar Burton, Wynton Marsalis, activist Tim Wise, Global Grind editor Michael Skolnik, and filmmaker Rochelle Oliver.
Skolnik and Hill opened up the chat and made strong points, and Wise gave his viewpoints on the back of their sensible statements. Burton turned heads, however, after sharing a story of how when he’s been stopped by cops that he removes his hat, glasses and puts his hands out the window to diffuse the situation.
Thankfully, it was universally understood by Lemon and the panelists that there is absolutely no comparing the two terms and their level of offensiveness. Yet that didn’t seem to dawn on CNN writer Tom Foreman, who contends in an article that “cracker” is a deeply offensive term to southern whites.
For context, the word has taken center stage after Rachel Jeantel, a friend of slain teen Trayvon Martin, said the boy used the term “creepy @ss cracker” with her on the phone just before his fatal encounter with Zimmerman. Foreman maintains that the word may have flipped the case in favor of the defense team and digs a hole for the prosecution.
“But for plenty of rural, white southerners, ‘cracker’ is a demeaning, bigoted term, and its appearance does nothing to help the prosecutors,” writes Foreman. He even goes on to suggest that had Martin survived, under Florida’s hate crime laws, the term could have been used against him in court.
Pundits railed against Jeantel, who testified in court that she didn’t know that “cracker” was an offensive term. Whether or not the term qualifies as a slur is up for debate, but as rapper-producer El-P summed up in a tweet last night, “from @CNN tonight: ” N word or cracker…which is more offensive?”. probably the one you won’t spell out, you f-cking hacks. just a guess.”
That pretty much sums up our feelings on the matter, too.