Common recently appeared on ESPN‘s Outside The Lines alongside Michael Wilbon and Jason Whitlock to discuss the use of the n-word in light of the NFL’s recent move to criminalize the term and penalize players for the use of the word. John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation which monitors diversity in the NFL, made a strong statement on the league’s lack of tolerance for the word:
We want this word to be policed from the parking lot to the equipment room to the locker room. Secretaries, PR people, whoever, we want it eliminated completely and want it policed everywhere.
The NFL’s competition committee is reportedly expected to enact an official rule banning the use of the word at an upcoming owner’s meeting in March.
Common’s commentary on the topic followed an OTL special on the unfortunate etymology of the word, which apparently pops up in the locker room and on the sidelines as much as it pervades in hip-hop and other avenues of pop culture. The panelists discussed their feelings on the word and its place (or lack thereof) in their personal lives. OTL dug a bit deeper, following the history of the word with a short piece on the continued evolution and current definition of the racial slur amongst high school students. The students profiled seemed content with dismissing the toxicity of the word, which is lobbed around their circles as a term of endearment even as it stands as a living testament to America’s continually tenuous and often violent relationship with people of African descent. Check the footage below to get Common’s take on the whole thing. Watch the full special on the n-word from Outside The Lines via ESPN.