Rose Salseda, assistant professor of art and art history at Stanford University, apologized for using a form of the N-word twice in online courses as the Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution condemning her speech. In both instances, one verbal and one in writing, Salseda was referring to the hip-hop group N.W.A., whose full name includes a version of the N-word. While the members of N.W.A. are black, Salseda’s critics at Stanford have said that she is not black and must be more sensitive about using the term or avoid it altogether. Many professors say using the full word is unnecessary for students to understand the meaning and impact. Others say not using it in literary, legal or other contexts is a form of censorship.
The students resolution also asked that the university make African American studies a full-fledged department, among other demands. Stanford didn’t comment on the petition. Salseda’s division, the School of Humanities and Sciences, shared her public statement, however. In it Salseda explained that her intention was to “center the voices of artists who have made important social interventions.”
Yet “I recognize the impact my reading of the N.W.A. lyric and the posting of their biography has had on students, especially black students,” she added. “I sincerely apologize for those actions and am committed to changing classroom practices.”