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Just don't say it

Black leaders are challenging the entertainment industry, including rappers, to stop use of the racial slur that Michael Richards uttered in his recent tirade at a comedy club.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and others said they will meet with TV networks, film companies and musicians to discuss the "n-word."

"We want to give our ancestors a present," Jackson said at a news conference Monday. "Dignity over degradation."

Jackson also asked the public not to buy a DVD box set of the seventh season of the TV show Seinfeld that is newly released.

Richards, who played the wacky neighbor Kramer on Seinfeld, triggered outrage with a Nov. 17 racial rant against two black men when he was heckled during a standup comedy routine at the Laugh Factory nightclub in West Hollywood. Richards has made several apologies, including one Sunday on Jackson's syndicated radio program, in which he has said he is not a racist and was motivated by anger.

At the news conference, comedian Paul Mooney said he has used the "n-word" numerous times during standup performances but will no longer do so after watching Richards' rant.

"He's my Dr. Phil," the black comedian said. "He's cured me." Mooney was a writer for Richard Pryor for many years and a regular on Chappelle's Show on Comedy Central. Comedian Dave Chappelle has been a frequent user of the epithet.

Asked about free-speech issues, Jackson said the word is "unprotected."

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said only situations such as the Richards incident turn mainstream media attention to issues involving the black community.

"This is not simply about whether or not the black community forgives or forgets," Waters said. "This is about understanding that this is pervasive, that this happens in all of our institutions, one way or the other."