CNN anchor-turned-BET host T.J. Holmes said Wednesday he had broken a pledge he made in an essay for the Grio in July: to stop using the N-Word.
“As soon as I walk out of this room, I’m probably going to drop it 20 times before I get downstairs” Holmes, 35, said on “The Breakfast Club” on New York’s WWPR-FM, which calls itself Power 105.1. “I went through a thing about giving up the N-Word,” but “I had to bring it back.” Holmes agreed with one of the show’s hosts, known as “Charlamagne Tha God,” that “there’s just certain folks you run into and there ain’t no other word you can come up with . . . We all know it’s a vile, it’s a disgusting word and I don’t think it necessarily should have a place.”
He added, “We have normalized and sanitized the word in such a way. There’s young white kids, they don’t know anything about civil rights or struggle. All they know is they hear their favorite rapper using it all the time, so it must be all right.”
In his Grio essay, Holmes had written, “Still, even if a younger generation of non-blacks doesn’t fully understand the history of the n-word, everyone understands a general rule: we (blacks) can say it, and you (everybody else) can’t. Beyond that, I really can’t give you a good reason why I use it. I like saying it? It’s the most accurate way of describing certain people? It’s how I want to express my deep affection for my male friends? None of those reasons really fly.
“. . . My problem has been that no one ever held me accountable for my, at times, gratuitous use of the n-word. So, while I can toil endlessly about who I do and don’t mind saying the n-word, I never stopped to think that maybe there are people who don’t want to hear that word from me. There are plenty of black people who don’t want to hear fellow blacks use the n-word, but we give each other a pass. Stop.“
BET announced last week that it is scaling back “Don’t Sleep,” the network’s late-night, half-hour vehicle for Holmes, from half an hour Monday through Thursday to an hour once a week. Holmes said the talk show is aimed at 25-to-34 year-olds and that it would take time for viewers not used to watching BET to find it. “I didn’t know where BET was on my cable lineup when they called and started talking about the show,” Holmes acknowledged on “The Breakfast Club.”
Rahiel Tesfamariam, Washington Post: Who’s to blame for sleeping on ‘Don’t Sleep!’? Not the viewers. (Nov. 16)