NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the n-word in a live radio interview Tuesday while talking about discrimination against Italian-Americans.
Cuomo called into WAMC radio to talk to host Alan Chartock about several subjects, one of which was the controversy surrounding Columbus Day and the parallel celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Cuomo moved the conversation to a New York Times op-ed from Saturday which discussed how Italian-Americans had been treated in the past, including slurs used to describe members of the community.
“They used an expression that Southern Italians were called, I believe they were saying Southern Italians, Sicilians — I’m half Sicilian — were called, quote-unquote and pardon my language, but I’m just quoting the Times: ‘n—-r wops,'” Cuomo said. “N-word wops, as a derogatory comment. When I said that WOP was a derogatory comment, that was when the Times Union told me, no, you should look in Wikipedia, WOP really meant a dandy. I’m sure that’s what they were saying to me back in Queens. You’re a dandy, when they looked at me with scorn and gave me a hand gesture and called me a Wop. So that’s the New York Times."
The Governor's Office emphasized that the governor was quoting the New York Times article when asked for comment.
Public Advocate Jumanne Williams, who is black, slammed Cuomo's use of the word.
“The flippant and unnecessary use of the word on live radio gives people further permission to use this racist term that remains a stain on this country," he said. "The Governor should understand that regardless of what community he was referencing, the misguided use of the word still rings with hundreds of years of pain, and should apologize for that. But hey, at least it wasn’t Blackface.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) backed the governor, though.
“The Governor was quoting a New York Times story and was using it for context," he said. “I didn’t take any offense at his comments.”
Cuomo spoke a day after he walked down Fifth Avenue in the city’s annual Columbus Day parade and announced that the state would pay for a statute of Saint Frances Cabrini.
Earlier in the year, Cuomo defended his brother CNN host Chris Cuomo when he was caught on camera going off at a man who approached him and called him "Fredo."
Chris Cuomo claimed "Fredo," a reference to the character Fredo Corleone from "The Godfather" series was equivalent to “the n-word” for Italian-Americans.