ALBANY — Some criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday for using a racial slur for African Americans while discussing historical discrimination toward darker-skinned Italian immigrants.
The Democrat used the slur in an interview on WAMC radio while speaking about Columbus Day and a recent New York Times article about how Italians overcame bigotry in the U.S.
The governor made his comments as he criticized Italian stereotypes and called for African American, Jewish and Italian communities to stick up for one another when one group faces bigotry.
Cuomo seemed to realize the word might bother people. He said “pardon my language” before he used the N-word followed by a derogatory slur once commonly lobbed against Italians.
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the governor was using language that was printed in the Times, and prefaced his remark by saying he was quoting the newspaper.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who is black, said he didn’t take any offense at Cuomo’s comments.
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.
“He ought to get over himself,” she said.
Working Families Party National Director Maurice Mitchell called on Cuomo to apologize and no white person should use the word for any reason. “That word is a stain on this country’s soul,” he said.