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The University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s Africana studies program apologized for a classroom incident involving a racial slur.

“We have been confronted with the image of one of our faculty members in Africana Studies standing in front of a whiteboard with a word that presents as a racial epithet for Black people. Underneath it is the reference phrase -- ‘Never Ignorant About Getting Goals Accomplished’ -- using the ‘n-word’ acronym, which is the name of a song (and part of the album title) by the renowned rap artist, Tupac (1993),” wrote Shayla Nunnally, chair of the program. “We and our faculty member sincerely apologize for the pain that this lecture about the acronym and its meaning for the ‘n-word’ has caused. We do not take it lightly that members of the UT community and friends and others elsewhere feel the pain of seeing the image that captured this acronym.”

After a student tweeted out an image of the professor in front of the acronym, the event garnered significant attention.

Nunnally also attempted to explain the academic rationale for writing the word.

“I also wish to point out that our faculty member has expertise and focuses research on Hip Hop and Africana Studies. To our knowledge the class discussion also shed light on even Tupac’s acronym, ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants F (the “f-word”) Everyone,’ to illustrate, as the professor mentioned, the power of wordplay in reclamation and empowerment,” she wrote. “However, we understand that even visual imagery, a snapshot from a discussion can become memetic, and we are so sorry that the fuller context of this discussion could not also be captured. We are also sorry about this representation of the word and the hurt that it has brought so many people.”

The program will be bringing in scholars for a discussion about the history and use of the slur, she wrote.