(CNN) — Things got testy on “CNN Tonight” when conservative commentator Ben Ferguson charged that rappers like Trinidad James were profiting off the n-word.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Ferguson told James on Monday night. “I think you know that we should probably get rid of the n-word, but in reality, I think many rappers are afraid they will lose out on money and sales and street cred if they don’t stop using the word.”
The two were part of a panel discussion about who can say the n-word. The panel also included CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill.
“I’m making money off of doing music and being creative, sir,” James responded. “I’m not making money just because I use the n-word. Nobody goes to buy an album because it’s full of the n-word.”
To which Ferguson responded: “Trinidad, you wouldn’t be on this show tonight if it wasn’t for using the n-word in your rap music. Let’s be honest.”
Trinidad James is the rapper whose hit song, “All Gold Everything,” is heard playing in the background as the house mother of the University of Oklahoma Sigma Alpha Epsilon house — known as Mom B. — was caught on a Vine video repeating the n-word seven times on camera.
The woman, Beauton Gilbow, was bombarded with claims that she’s just as racist as the fraternity members who were caught singing a racist song on a bus earlier this month.
In a previous appearance on the CNN show, hosted by Don Lemon, James had said he was willing to give the house mom a pass — though he said he didn’t condone her use of the word.
But when Ferguson said Monday the rapper was only on the show for his use of the word, the third panelist — Hill — quickly jumped in.
“He wouldn’t be on the show if a white woman hadn’t said the n-word on a tape,” he said.
“White people have been saying the [n-word] long before Trinidad was born.”
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