- The Washington Times - Monday, May 16, 2016

Protesting students have been occupying part of the humanities college at Seattle University since Wednesday, demanding the resignation of a dean who used the N-word when referring to a book title.

Jodi Kelly, who is dean of the university’s Matteo Ricci College, was helping a black student who had come to her for advice, when she recommended the student read “N-gger,” an autobiography by comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory, who is black.

Ms. Kelly, who is white, explained that the point of the autobiography’s provocative title was to reclaim the slur.

The offended student, who has not been named, said she was unable to attend class after hearing Ms. Kelly say the word.

“That word still hurts. … It is not her place to tell me not to be offended,” the student said, as reported by Seattle newspaper The Stranger. “This woman needs to be removed.”

In an email to Inside Higher Education, Ms. Kelly said she recalled having the conversation.

“The student asked for more diversified reading,” she said. “I complied and pulled the book from my shelf. The title, as you know, could startle, so I relayed the story of Dick Gregory explaining to his maternal ancestors why he titled it that way. … I am not in the habit of ever using that word … I believe it demeans us all.”

Students started a social media hashtag, “#DearDeanKelly,” and an online petition to raise awareness about their demand for her termination.

The controversy at Seattle University mirrors a national debate about the acceptance of the N-word in political discourse.

Comedian Larry Wilmore, who is black, used the racial slur affably when referring to President Obama at the White House Correspondence Association dinner earlier this month.

The White House said Mr. Obama was not offended by the remark.

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