A local New York City newspaper is drawing criticism for a headline that uses an offensive racial epithet to describe President Barack Obama.
The opinion piece appears in the July edition of the WestView News with the headline “The N***** in the White House.” The paper, distributed to about 20,000 readers in Manhattan’s West Village, ran the headline with the word unedited — without any asterisks or dashes.
The column, written by James Lincoln Collier, is supportive of the president.
“The simple truth is that there is still in America an irreducible measure of racism,” Collier argues in the piece. “America’s increasing tolerance of far-right opinion has made racism more acceptable.”
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Regardless of the support the article shows for the president, the use of the offensive headline was upsetting to many of the paper’s readers.
“It’s disrespectful in any context to refer to the president of the United States as the N-word,” one West Villager, Eugene May, told the New York Post. “If you were quoting something or referring to the historic context of the word being used, I can understand the justification.”
“I can see his point but the fact that [it] is a headline in this paper that represents the West Village is disgusting,” Florence Kindred, a local poet, told WPIX.
The paper’s publisher, 84-year-old George Capsis, defended the headline in a written statement.
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Collier was attempting to “shock us into accepting that there are people who believe and use this outrageous word,” Capsis wrote, saying that his editorial staff continues to object to the use of the word in the headline.
“In this article, however, Jim reminded me that The New York Times avoids using the word which convinced me that WestView should,” he added.
The paper also ran an op-ed, by African-American columnist Alvin Hall, titled, “This Headline Offends Me,” directly underneath Collier’s piece.
“The decision to use the headline feels misguided to me,” Hall wrote. “I don’t see how its use benefits anyone, but I do feel all too clearly how it deeply offends me.”
The WestView News did not run Collier’s column on its website and has not responded to calls seeking comment.