ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the n-word during a WAMC radio interview on Tuesday while discussing discrimination against Italian-Americans.
The governor was quoting a recent New York Times op-ed when he used the derogatory term.
“They used an expression that southern Italians were called quote-unquote, and pardon my language, but I’m just quoting the New York Times, n****r w**s,” Cuomo told WAMC host Alan Chartock in reference to the op-ed.
Gov. Cuomo also said that Italian-Americans are not immune from attack and that stereotyping is still alive and well.
It’s the use of the n-word that has some people concerned. It’s a word some believe should have never been repeated.
“It’s wrong,” said Ovi Josi, a Rochester native. “There is never a good time to use that word.”
“I think it is a degrading term and especially coming from a public official it’s completely unacceptable,” said Danielle Moser, also from the city of Rochester.
Cuomo also spoke about anti-Italian sentiments and urged people to denounce overall hate.
Carvin Eison is an associate professor at The College at Brockport. He says the Governor didn’t need to use the n-word to make his point.
“Since he was talking about how important it was to preserve the sanctity of Italian-Americans for Columbus Day,” said Eison. “So why would he support that idea and denigrate another culture?”
Some fear the use of the term has become a trend given the tone of national politics.
“The president of the United States uses language in such a way that makes it plausible and possible for other people to think they also can step over that line,” said Eison.
Now some of Como’s supporters are calling for him to apologize which for some might not be enough.
“There are some things you can apologize for,” said Josi. “That is something you can’t apologize for.”
Cuomo’s office didn’t offer further comment.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he didn’t take offense at Cuomo’s comments. Heastie, the first African-American speaker, said Cuomo was quoting a New York Times editorial about racist language once used to describe Italian immigrants.
But Bertha Lewis, founder and president of the Black Institute, a public policy think tank, said Cuomo appears to think he has so much privilege he can say anything. She said there’s no comparison between oppression against Italian immigrants and black people.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.