CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Heat Wave Scorches the West; Mandela Illness Weighs on South Africa; The George Zimmerman Trial; America's Issue with Race

Aired June 29, 2013 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It's the top of the hour. Thanks for joining us, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Here is what's coming up right now on the CNN NEWSROOM. One hundred and twenty degrees and rising. The West Coast bracing for some of the highest temperatures ever recorded.

The jury heard nearly two dozen witnesses in the murder trial of George Zimmerman this week. We've got the must see moments.

Plus, we're having a conversation you won't see anywhere else on television. It's about words, offensive words, we're going to do it right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. You want to stick around for this conversation.

We'll going to begin with this. As incredible as it may sound, former NFL Star Aaron Hernandez could be in even more trouble possibly linked to another homicide case in Boston. This one from two years ago with two victims. That story is coming right up.

But first, as if the NFL's image problem wasn't bad enough another player, this time from Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Colts arrested early today in Washington, D.C. Joe Lefeged faces multiple gun charges. Police say he fled from a traffic stop only to be caught almost immediately. He and the passenger were both allegedly carrying unlicensed firearms. The Colts say, they are aware of the situation but they have no comment right now.

Now the saga of Aaron Hernandez which seems to grow uglier by the hour. Police in Massachusetts have found more evidence possibly tying him to a second homicide case. Police believe a silver SUV impounded yesterday overnight and registered to Hernandez is linked to an unsolved drive by shooting in Boston where two people were killed. Earlier today though, friends and family attended the Boston funeral of Odin Lloyd. The 27-year-old semi-pro player who Hernandez is accused of killing. Hernandez is being held without bail right now.

And here is another hot story. Really hot story. It's massive and dangerous. I'm talking about the weather system that is blasting the western part of the country of the U.S. with a furnace like heat. Check out some of the high temperatures expected in the region today through Monday. No less than eight states are under heat advisories.

Casey Wian joins me now from Palm Springs, California. Casey, it's just after 2:00 in the afternoon there. How hot is it now and how are people handling the heat? Casey, can you hear me? CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, I've got you, Don. Sorry about that. Don, we're here at a Water Park in Palm Springs, California. And if you want to know how hot it is here, then look at this thermometer. One hundred and twenty degrees and that is tying the all time record for Palm Springs, California. Of course this is not an official expensive thermometer. It's when we got it at a discount store this morning. But that gives you a sense of just how hot it is.

What are people doing to beat the heat? Look at this, right at Water Park, a lot of folks out here trying to stay cool in this water. The folks here at the Water Park do actually tell us that attendance is actually less today than it would be on a normal day because it's simply too hot for people to really get the full enjoyment out of a place like this. A lot of life guards on duty here. They are keeping a close eye out for heatstroke. They haven't had any cases so far. But they are watching closely because it's expected to get even hotter over the next couple of hours -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Casey Wian, stay safe out there as well as the rest of the folks out there as well. I appreciate your reporting.

Coming up next hour, our Tory Dunnan will join us live from Death Valley, California where the temperature will be close to 130 degrees today. We'll get a report from them.

We're going to go overseas now. Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition. A slow motion ordeal for South Africa and the world, one weighing heavily on the minds of the citizens of South Africa and a visitor today, President Barack Obama.

Our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin travelling with the president joins me now from Johannesburg. Hello Jessica. The President knows it's a difficult time for South Africa. How much was that reflected in today's events?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. You know, you seen it in his schedule and heard it at every turn, the president and Mrs. Obama called former President Mandela's wife Graca Machel who has been by Mandela's side. And the President visited with Mandela's relatives. Also, every time the President speaks on this trip, he pays tribute to the man he calls his political hero and the inspiration for his own first activism. Here is what the President said about Mandela's legacy during a town hall with young South Africans this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: The struggle here against apartheid for freedom. Madiba's moral courage. This country's historic transition to a free and democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to me. It has been an inspiration to the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: It's somewhat poignant that this is happening on the President's first trip to South Africa during his time in office. Tomorrow, I think you'll hear more of his thoughts about Mandela at the president's big speech of the trip at the University of Cape Town which is the same location Robert Kennedy gave a speech in 1966 -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Jessica Yellin. Thank you so much. We appreciate you as well.

Vice President Joe Biden meantime has spoken to the president of Ecuador about NSA leaker Edward Snowden. That deputy director of U.S. National Security Council would not confirm to CNN any details about their conversation. But Ecuadorian president says, the U.S. asked him not to grant asylum to Snowden. Snowden is believed to want asylum in Ecuador if and when he leaves the Moscow airport.

Protesters in Egypt are back in the streets and gearing up for even bigger rallies tomorrow. Critics of President Mohamed and Morsi are planning massive nationwide demonstrations to mark a year since Morsi took office. They gathered millions of signatures on petitions over the last three months demanding that Morsi step down. There had been casualties in the latest violence. An American schoolteacher from Maryland was stabbed to death Friday during the protests in Alexandria.

Coming up, the visceral reaction to the "n" word. It is played a pivotal role in two major stories this is week.

What makes that slur so toxic and why are we so uncomfortable about talking about it.

Plus, we've had five days of testimony in the murder trial of George Zimmerman. The must see moments, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Sixteen months after the shooting that took the life of 17- year-old Trayvon Martin, the jury of six women began hearing evidence this week in the Florida courtroom in the trial of George Zimmerman. Here is a look at the most dramatic moments of the week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Opening statements getting under way right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Looking inside that courtroom.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Helicopters have been buzzing over the crowds outside the courthouse while expletives have been flying around inside the courtroom.

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: (bleep) punks. These (bleep) they always get away. Those were words in that man's chest.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And then you have the defense that opens up with as you say a joke.

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Knock-knock. Who's there? George Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The joke that bombed.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What was he thinking?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I really thought that was funny.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The contrasted styles could not be more obvious.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Now, we turn to the state of Florida versus George Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Day two of his second-degree murder trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: At issue were calls that Zimmerman made to police in the months before he shot and killed the 17-year-old unarmed teen teenager.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, TRAYVON MARTIN'S SHOOTER: There's some suspicious characters at the gate of my neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The defense is concerned about jurors hearing these tapes. They believe that the prosecutors will basically try to show a pattern.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Testimony has shifted to the night that Trayvon Martin was shot. For the first time today the jury saw gruesome photos of Trayvon Martin's splayed on the ground in the minutes after Zimmerman shot the teen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes. Very graphic and very grim.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They had to walk out when the court saw pictures of their son's lifeless body, it was particularly hard on Martin's father.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's day three day of George Zimmerman's second- degree murder trial.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: On the stand now is a neighbor named Jane Surdyka.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are relying on these witnesses to determine who was screaming for help.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The star witness in the Zimmerman murder trial may take the stand at any time now.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It looks like she is about to testify.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good afternoon, man. Can you state your name for the record and spell your last name.

RACHEL JEANTEL, TRAYVON MARTIN'S FRIEND: Rachel Jeantel.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From the totally non-legal perspective, it was one of the most remarkable testimonies I have ever seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Her testimony flies in the face of Zimmerman's claim of self defense. Which is why her cross examination was crucial.

WEST: Good afternoon Ms. Jeantel.

JEANTEL: Good afternoon.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Defense Attorney Don West went after her credibility.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So, it could be I don't know. You know it's not.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The longer she was questioned, the more agitated the teen witnessed appeared the times even defiant like when she was told she would have to return the next day.

JEANTEL: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Round two of riveting testimony today from the young woman who was on phone with Trayvon Martin only moments before he was shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Started out nice enough but it wasn't long before her yes sirs seem to take on a sharper edge.

JEANTEL: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And another witness who was called is this woman Jenna Lauer who made one of the 911 calls.

DISPATCHER: So, you think he's yelling help?

JENNA LAUER, WITNESS: Yes.

DISPATCHER: What is your --

LAUER: There's gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There is no shortage of action in the courtroom featuring Florida versus George Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Prosecutors are out to shatter claims that Zimmerman killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense but the state's case today took a bizarre turn when one witness was asked to give testimony that seemed to back up some of Zimmerman's claims.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In terms of describing the individuals, are you able to describe their faces or anything or just clothing descriptions?

JOHN GOOD, WITNESS: Well, going back to when they were vertical I could tell the person on the bottom had a lighter skinned color. Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The state also tried to get at Zimmerman's state of mind with a different witness.

JONATHAN MANALO, NEIGHBOR: I had a connection with him right away and I said your husband is involved in a shooting. He's being handcuffed and he's going to be held for questioning at the Stanford Police Department. And around that time he kind of cut me off and he says, just tell her I shot someone.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: But the state I think is trying point out is, that kind of an odd thing where he just blurts out and says, just tell her I shot someone. But then, you know, the defense came back and said, well, actually, he said a number of other things besides just that. It was at least an attempt to point out state of mind.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes. What a dramatic way though to wind up week one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Just one week. So, after five days, who's winning? Who's losing? Well, my guest says, the prosecution is blowing this case. Why she feels that way, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, welcome back. There's no denying. The first week of George Zimmerman murder trial was jam-packed with contentious testimony. There was a knock-knock joke, can you believe it? A knock-knock joke, a series of expletives and a fiery cross-examination of the star witness. But after one week, there's still few answers about what happened the night Trayvon Martin was killed. The teen stepmother talked exclusively with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you watching the trial?

ALICIA STANLEY, TRAYVON MARTIN'S STEPMOTHER: I'm not watching the trial.

COOPER: Why?

STANLEY: It's hard for me. I mean, to see and hear the things that led to his death is hard for me. And I don't care to hear it. I don't care to hear that. I don't.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It's a really great interview last night. We should probably run more of it. But if you want to see the whole thing, go to CNN.com. Great interview. We're going to run it tomorrow 5:00 Eastern in its entirety.

Criminal Defense Attorney Holly Hughes is here. Holly, you know, nearly two dozen witnesses have been called by the state. Witnesses who actually seem to have been turned by the defense. Right? HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's exactly right. The prosecution came out very strong with their opening statement. They laid it out in graphic detail. They used the defendant's own words against him. Then the defense makes this huge blunder. Telling a joke in a murder trial is never appropriate. But after that, Don, it was not smooth sailing for the prosecution. This is their case in chief. Remember, in any criminal case, prosecution has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. They have charged second-degree murder here.

So, they have to prove those elements. They have to prove that George Zimmerman acted with a depraved mind. And witness after witness seems to back up his version. The lady from the Neighborhood Watch Association got on the stand. This is a witness the state put up and called him meek. And said, he is great and he looks out for all the neighbors and he gets along with everybody and he such a wonderful man. We wanted him to be head of neighborhood watch. We wanted him to be the captain.

John Good, one of the witnesses that the state put up actually bolsters the defense's claim of self-defense because he says I saw the altercation. I was just a couple yards away and at all times George Zimmerman was on the bottom and was, he uses these MMA terms. Mixed Martial Arts.

LEMON: Holly. Holly.

HUGHES: Yes.

LEMON: Let me jump in here.

HUGHES: Go ahead.

LEMON: Because it seems that George Zimmerman was on the bottom and then Trayvon Martin, his estimation was hitting him. He saw arms flailing.

HUGHES: Correct.

LEMON: I have to ask you this because those witnesses are out there. They're still more testimony to come. If the prosecution knows the witnesses are out there and they're going to be called, wouldn't you want those witnesses called early on so that the jury and even the public at large maybe wouldn't remember them. Don't you think that was maybe a smart call to get those witnesses out of way so they can get stronger witnesses towards the end of the trial, when it may be fresher in your memory when you're going into the deliberate?

HUGHES: OK. That could be a strategy. I don't think it's a good one because who is left, Don? Whose left are the police officers. And you better believe they're going to be cross examined on the fact. This is the same police department that didn't want to arrest him. They had George Zimmerman in custody for five hours and then they said, oh, there's no evidence he really committed a crime and released him. They did not make an arrest for 44 days until after there was a public outcry and the media turned a spotlight on this case. LEMON: So, then Holly, what do you do then? What do you do? You've been involved in a number of cases. You've been the prosecutor.

HUGHES: Absolutely.

LEMON: So, then what do you do? Do you not call these witnesses and you have the defense call them?

HUGHES: Right. I mean, why would you put up a witness is going to sabotage your defense and -- sabotage your prosecution and prove the defense's side. The defense has subpoena power, they can absolutely put these witnesses on. But they also put up a lot of witnesses who just didn't seem prepared to answer the prosecutor's questions. There were several times when his witnesses looked at him at the prosecutor and said, I don't know. I don't know.

LEMON: Yes.

HUGHES: How do you put up a witness that you haven't asked those questions? You know, the first rule of lawyering no matter what side you're on Don, is never ask a question you don't know the answer to.

LEMON: You don't know the answer. Right. And one of those witnesses was -- one of those witnesses is Rachel which we didn't get a chance to talk about.

HUGHES: Right.

LEMON: But I want to talk about her more a little bit later on in the broadcast. But Holly, I have to run. I have to take a break. Thank you very much. I appreciate your insight on this trial.

You know, and many of you will find the next segment difficult to watch. In part, you know, it relates to this trial. Some of you may even find it offensive. But events this week have shown us that, you know, we can't ignore the pain that words can cause or the impact they have on society. I want you to stick around. You don't want to miss what we're going to talk about, next.

But first this, do you believe in fate? Well, you just might after watching this report on this week's CNN's hero. It's a story of man's best friend bringing together two war heroes in a way you never could have imagined.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Gabriel loves to play but he's trained to serve. He's like hundreds of service dogs that CNN hero Karen Shirk are provided to kids with special needs. Now she's helping disabled veterans.

Back in March, she got an e-mail from a U.S. Army Sergeant Derek McConnell (ph), who lost both his legs in Afghanistan and was desperate for a service dog.

KAREN SHIRK, CNN HERO: I sent him a picture of Gabriel and said how would you like this dog? He was so excited. He texts me every day. COOPER: Then one day she didn't hear from him.

SHIRK: I went to his Facebook page, and I'm like no, no, no.

COOPER: Derek had died in the night at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Devastated, Karen spread the word to find another veteran to take Gabriel, that when the wife of Army Captain Jake Murphy (ph) heard about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Lisa said my husband is looking for (INAUDIBLE).

COOPER: Like Derek, Jake had also lost his legs in Afghanistan. Karen soon realized they had much more in common. They served in the same unit and Derek had helped medically evacuate Jake. And hours later, Derek sustained his own injuries.

Now, the two soldiers share another connection -- Gabriel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if it's fate. But if Derek can't be here, it's almost fitting that I get Gabriel as my service dog. Derek will always be in my thoughts.

SHIRK: Derek and Jake lost their independence, giving independence to others, those veterans. That was who I wanted to help. This is -- bittersweet, but I just think it was meant to be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. So, I'm going to have a conversation now that may make some people very uncomfortable. It's a conversation though that we as a society need to have. And I hope you sit down and I hope you watch the next part of this broadcast. It's about words like some of these words here. This word, you know. Mostly about this word. Say the word during this too, niger, hockey, cracker. These words can cause a visceral reaction when people hear them. You may have been flinched when I said them.

But they played a pivotal role in two major stories this week. The George Zimmerman murder trial and the allegations around celebrity chef Paula Deen. It's a catalyst for an honest and difficult conversation. That's all we're trying to do here is to get people to talk about it. OK? So, we're going to have a discussion here without censorship, without code words, without awkwardness. And we have a group of people to help drive this conversation.

Buck Davis is a diversity and inclusion expert. Marc Lamont Hill is a professor at Columbia University. And human behavior expert Wendy Walsh. They got a lot to say about this particular subject.

But first, let's take a look at how we got here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON (voice-over): This classic 'Saturday Night Live' sketch ran unbleeped in 1975.

CHEVY CHASE, ACTOR: Jungle bunny.

RICHARD PRYOR, ACTOR: Peckerwood.

(LAUGHTER)

CHASE: Bird head.

PRYOR: Cracker.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: But it probably wouldn't run today. Why? Have we lost our sense of humor?

TIM WISE, ANTI-RACISM ACTIVIST: What was so profound about that sketch wasn't just that they got away with using the "N" word and a lot of other racial slurs, but what that sketch demonstrated was certain slurs there are no trump cards for and the "N" word is one of them.

LEMON: All over words, Paula Deen is losing her TV job and millions in endorsement money.

PAULA DEEN, CELEBRITY CHEF: Inappropriate language is totally, totally unacceptable.

LEMON: And the prosecution in the George Zimmerman murder trial could lose credibility, all because of the words a witness said Martin used to describe the man who shot him.

DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Creepy-(EXPLETIVE DELETED) cracker?

RACHEL JEANTEL, WITNESS: Yes.

WEST: So it was racial but it was Trayvon Martin that put race in this?

JEANTEL: No.

WEST: You don't think that's a racial comment?

WEST: No.

WEST: You don't think that "creepy-(EXPLETIVE DELETED) cracker" is a racial comment?

JEANTEL: No.

LEMON: Is there really a difference between witness Rachel Jeantel and Paula Deen's racism denials?

WISE: The difference is about 40 years.

LEMON: Anti-racism activist, Tim Wise. WISE: I think to expect a 19-year-old to know the history of a term like "cracker" as opposed to a 66-year-old knowing the history of the "N" word is a ridiculous comparison.

LEMON: And did Martin bring race into it by using the term?

WISE: The problem with that argument, first of all, it's comparing to be on point with this case, it's like comparing Skittles and handgun. They don't have the same power.

LEMON: Is he right? We took the words to the people on the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are both derogatory and they're both racist. But the feeling I get inside from when I hear that word is different. It's a psychological thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If someone were to call me a honky or cracker, I don't think it would offend me as much as this word offends other people from my experience.

LEMON (on camera): If you hear other people saying this word or this word as opposed to that word, this still offends you more?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

LEMON: Even if it's a black person calling a white person those words?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

LEMON: Someone saying the "N" word?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm being completely honest, yes.

LEMON (voice-over): Honesty might be the answer, according to Columbia University professor, Marc Lamont Hill, who says we shouldn't be censoring this SNL clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHASE: Spade.

PRYOR: Honky, honky.

(LAUGHTER)

CHASE: Nigger.

PRYOR: Dead honky.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARC LAMONT HILL, PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: I think we hurt ourselves as a community and a country and a group of people trying to improve the racial circumstances in this nation by running from these words and censoring these words and by throwing people away as soon as they use them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Let's bring our panel in now. Buck Davis is in Atlanta. Marc Lamont Hill is in New York. And then Wendy Walsh is in Los Angles.

OK, you saw me out on the street with the cards with the words right.

Wendy, let's talk about this, the most powerful --

(CROSSTALK)

DR. WENDY WELSH, HUMAN BEHAVIOR EXPERT: You're too afraid to even say the words.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Go ahead, and let's talk about the most powerful one. Why do you think it makes people so uncomfortable?

WELSH: Let's talk in general about what a taboo word is. It's a word that's been socially prohibited, and it tends to be prohibited individually and institutionally. It's policed by authorities who literally punish people who use it, as we're seeing with Paula Deen and maybe even in the courtroom, the Zimmerman courtroom.

The taboo words are out there. The thing that helps them retain their power is their non-usage. The more they become taboo, the more they keep their power. We get even more nervous about using them. Now we're seeing a word, specifically the "N" word, that has different uses. Different populations are using it in different ways. It may not have anger. People who research this are having a hard time determining harm by the usage. And that's the main thing.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: Can we determine harm.

LEMON: Wendy, listen, I said the word. I said the word and you said the "N" word. Do you think it's different?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Do you have trouble saying that as a white woman?

WALSH: Yeah. I think you and I had this conversation on the phone last week, is that because my children are biracial and they are young and trying to figure out how to use words, and they have friends in many different ethnicities, of course -- my 10-year-old said the other day, mom, if I'm not -- if you're not allowed to say the "N" word but daddy is, what's the rule for me? What do you tell a multiracial child?

(LAUGHTER) LEMON: Yeah.

So, Marc --

WALSH: I didn't have a good clear answer.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Marc, do you think we hurt ourselves by not using these words. I have to tell you, when I was researching this -- you saw the SNL clip. They said he goes and then he does "nigger," and the guy -- and he does it. I've watched "The Jeffersons" and hey would say -- do you remember back -- what was the saying that they use to say? "Nigger, please"? Like, they said that on television in the '70s. But we can't say it now.

HILL: Black people said it because ewe moved into this post-racial ideology, this color-blind ideology that says, if we don't talk about race, if we don't name race, if we don't speak certain racialized terms, somehow the world will be racially better, and it's not true.

I don't have a problem with the sitcom or with you as an esteemed journalist using the "N" word in context because it has explanatory value.

Do I think that white people should be using it? Absolutely not. Do I think someone with a biracial son should be confused about this? Absolutely not. I find it remarkable that white people find the "N" word usage complicated such a complicated puzzle. It's not that complicated. Just don't use it.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: No. I have to disagree with you.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: Let me finish the thought. There's some things in the world, at least one thing that you can't do that black people can, and that might just be OK.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: Wait. Wait.

LEMON: Hang on, Buck. Let's let Wendy finish.

WALSH: I'm not talking about me in particular. But what about the huge consumers? What about the huge consumers of hip hop who have been exposed to a new sort of reclaimed usage of the word through music. When a teenage boy uses it with his teenage friend as a team of endearment -- I'm not fighting to use the word but -- (CROSSTALK)

WALSH: -- he's a consumer of hip hop --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: No, but Marc, I hear white kids -- I have to tell you --

WALSH: Yes.

LEMON: -- I was in Ohio in October, coming up on the election, and I was with a white kid in his late teens, early 20s, in college. He was talking to another white friend and they both were calling each other that term. I was like -- at first, he was on the phone and I thought he was talking to his black friend. We met him and he was talking to his white friend. So it's not just black people using that word as a term of endearment.

HILL: I would be happy if no one used the word as a term of endearment. I was saying that white teenager, that white 20-something should learn that, yes, you can listen to the music and hear the words but it doesn't mean you have to repeat them. Because the truth is they can --

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: But you can't sing along?

(LAUGHTER)

HILL: Why are white people fighting so fiercely for the right to use the "N" word? Let it go.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I know one white person who is fighting fiercely to have a say in this, and that's Buck Davis.

Buck, go ahead.

BUCK DAVIS, DIVERSION AND INCLUSION EXPERT: I have trouble comparing those words, Don, because you can't compare the stories behind those words.

Let's take "cracker" for instance. If anybody calls me cracker, big deal, there's no power associated with it. You call me honky, there's no privilege, now power associated with it. Now, if generations of my people had been systematically, categorically discriminated against and some of them lynched while mobs of people scream, "Kill the honky, good-bye cracker," that would be different for me.

The narrative around the "N" word carries so much evil attached to it that for many of us in the majority, we have a hard time connecting to the depth of the pain. That word has been used to demoralize, dehumanize, to paralyze, and sometimes to kill groups of people.

And what I know from my friends and family who are people of color around the country, when they hear that word, it cuts to the bone.

LEMON: Buck Davis, Marc Lamont Hill, Wendy Walsh, stand by.

WALSH: But, but, but.

LEMON: After a quick break.

WALSH: I'm still going to sing in my car.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Right after a quick break. We'll be back and we'll hear Wendy's songs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BELL RINGING)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Your stock portfolio may have taken a beating, but the bond market could have a much bigger affect on your financial life. Everything from your mortgage, credit cards and 401K are influenced by the interest rate or yield on the 10-year U.S. treasury bond. The yield was near an all- time low in April, but it's gained more than a full percentage point since April. If your mortgage is adjustable your interest payments could rise. At 4 percent, the monthly payment on a $250,000 home loan is about $1200. At 5 percent, it's about $150 more.

GERRI DETWEILER, DIRECTOR OF CONSUMER EDUCATION, CREDIT.COM: If you're either in the market to buy a house or you've been on fence about refinancing, I would say do not wait.

ROMANS: Here is something you may not know. You can refinance your car loan too.

DETWEILER: If your auto loan rate is high, maybe your credit score has improved, now is the time, while rates are low, to see if you can refinance it.

ROMANS: Keep an eye on your credit card debt. You'll feel those rising rates in the monthly interest penalties you pay.

LIZ MILLER, PRESIDENT, SUMMIT PLACE FINANCIAL ADVISORS: If you've been feeling better and growing your credit card debt, that's where you want to be managing thing. Credit cards will be one of the first to change the interest rate.

DETWEILER: Be as aggressive as you can about paying down your debt. Once they start to rise, there won't be a stop.

ROMANS: And your 401K, conventional wisdom says, the closer you are to retirement, the more bonds you should have be in your portfolio.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Let's bring back our panel, Buck Davis in Atlanta, Marc Lamont Hill in New York, where I am, and then Wendy Walsh is in Los Angeles.

Wendy, when you said that, you reminded me of the Chris Rock skit where he's talking about when he's with his white friends, and the rap song is on, and when it gets to the part for the "N" word, and they are whispering. He goes, I know they sing along loud. You're still going to sing along and say the word. You think that's OK.

WALSH: My kids and I follow a great Youtuber who tell us to insert a "W." So we say "wigger" when we sing. That's our way of doing it.

We have to think about context. We're talking about specifics of one word, but let's talk about taboo words in general. The one that hurts me the most is the "C" word. But when people say it, it tells me more about them than me.

But we have to consider, if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, than the power to harm is in the ear of the listener. The most dangerous thing about a racist culture is not individual acts of discrimination that happen, it's an overall and psychological internalized sense of feeling less than in a culture because of how media may portray things.

So if you're walking around with this internalized sense, because you look at every magazine and it's got people that do not look like your families on the covers, then when you hear that word, there's more chance it will feel more painful.

(CROSSTALK)

DAVIS: I think one of the reasons why so many people are unnerved because Paula Deen admitted to saying she said the "N" word is because I think a lot of white people are still using the "N" word. If you're calling her racist because she admitted to saying a long time ago -- if you don't say it then I'm not talking to you. I think people are rattled because if you're calling her racist because she admitted to saying it, then you're calling me a racist because I'm still using it. And that's what is lighting a fire, I believe, for a lot of Americans who don't want to hear they are using words that are associated with racism.

LEMON: I think you're right about that. When we had this discussion and talking about Paula Deen, there are people immediately on social media calling you a reverse racist. I say, there's no such thing as a reverse racist.

DAVIS: Right. Right.

LEMON: That would mean you're fair to every one.

(LAUGHTER) There's no such thing as reverse racism. You're a racist. But just by asking that conversation, I think you're right.

Here is what I have to say. If you listen to people who support Paula Deen or who don't, their problem is not with the "N" word that she said a few years ago. Their problem is with her seemingly not understanding the cultural references and what is wrong with what she did, and wanting us, by coming on television, to feel sorry for the position she's in, and not to feel sorry for her. People are feeling sorry for her because she's so ignorant about what she's not understanding.

DAVIS: It's also a contradiction of her brand. She's a brand of comfort. She is nurturing and nice, fun, loving. For us to hear her say that and not take full responsibility and be remorseful it's really shock.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: It's shocking for some of us.

DAVIS: Shocking for some people.

LEMON: OK, yeah, shocking for some of us.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Go ahead, real quick, Marc.

HILL: This is exactly what I expect from someone like Paula Deen. Her whole brand is built on the cultural legacy of black folk and black labor and black work. She's exploiting it and making money off of it. In other words, treating us like the "N" word. There's always a relationship between what people say and what people do. And that's what troubles me so much when white people use it.

LEMON: I don't think that Paula Deen should -- I'm saying my personal opinion, not CNN's. I don't think Paula Deen should be fired. I think the marketplace should decide. If you don't like her, then don't buy her products.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: The marketplace did decide.

LEMON: No, not true.

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: Her bosses decided.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: The marketplace did not decide. Her bosses decided. Corporate America decided. People bought her books --

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: Because they thought it was bad business, Don.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But it's not bad business if her books are number one. How do they know what the ratings will be the next time Paul Dean comes on, unless they --

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: There's 50 million people on Twitter --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: It's a still not the marketplace. People on Twitter hate all the time.

WALSH: I agree with you, Don.

LEMON: OK, listen, stand by.

This guy will break his rule. He's right here. John McWhorter is sitting next to me -- about being on the panel.

I just had you in on the end.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And you said that -- what did you want to say about the use of the particular word?

JOHN MCWHORTER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Frankly, as far as this idea there's some sort of confusion of subtlety between the use of the "N" word as a slur and term of affection, the idea that anybody is confused about that, that we need to have complicated conversations about it, it's performance art, we all understand it completely, including the non-black people using it that way. The difficulty is that a lot of non-black people feel like they can use it with affection even among each other. That's tricky but it's not all that subtle.

LEMON: John McWhorter is a professor at Columbia University. He's going to be back with us on the other side of the break. We'll talk about the star witness for the George Zimmerman trial for, supposedly, for the prosecution. Rachel Jeantel. Why didn't people understand her? Some people said they didn't. We'll talk about Black English. You don't want to miss this conversation on the other side of the break.

Thank you --

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel not on trial in the George Zimmerman case. Yet critics ripped her performance on the stand. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANTEL: And then I say Trayvon and he said, "Why are you following me for"? And then I heard a hard breathed man come say, "What are you doing around here"?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, so Columbia University English professor, John McWhorter, is back with me here in New York. He wrote a book called, "Winning the Race Beyond the Crisis of Black America."

You thought that she -- people said, oh, I don't understand her, she's not very articulate. You thought she was quite eloquent.

MCWHORTER: She was very articulate. I think people she did understand here. She's speaking Black English. A lot of people think Black English is just bad grammar. But that's like saying that a cocker spaniel is a bad kind of Saint Bernard. They're different kinds of English. If you dropped a Martian into South Central L.A., the Martian would have a horrible time figuring out the grammatical rules of Black English as they would the English we're speaking right now.

She grew up speaking Black English and she's using it, and there's a tendency to look at it as something that's wrong. And there are a lot of reasons for that, just as there's a tendency to look at her as something that's wrong in general. And there are a lot of reasons for that.

LEMON: Yeah, talk more about that because as she was -- when I saw her on the stand I understood everything she was saying. Obviously, I grew up in the black community.

MCWHORTER: That helps.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But she was very soft spoken. So at times, I'd have to lean in.

MCWHORTER: Sure.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But I thought she is not having him.

MCWHORTER: No.

LEMON: And that's how young kids are. Like, mm, yes, sir.

MCWHORTER: In other words, she has a kind of poise. And all of a sudden, on the stand, it's being made to seem as if she's somehow pre- lingual in some way, and really it's just that she's different.

And the fact of the matter is that we have to admit that there is a class element here as well. If this were the Honey Boo Boo teen mom genre, people would be making jokes too. But they have a particular sting. She's been made a particular sideshow because of the color of her skin. Black is less human in the eyes of many people. And that's what she's laboring under in terms of how she speaks as well as how she looks and conducts herself.

LEMON: The difference is, though, that the Honey Boo Boos of the world will get a show. She won't.

MCWHORTER: It's highly unlikely or it would be a show that would make all of us cringe.

It's kind of like this. Every now and then, I'm walking around in New York and somebody will say, John, I love your work on CNN. And I have to think to myself, wait a minute, they think I'm Don Lemon. And we don't look that much alike. It's just that there's a certain -- not racist, but there's a certain sense that you're a little bit less real. That's what she's laboring under, except in a way that's hurtful. Because people are thinking of her as a kind of creature, when actually she's somebody speaking a very interesting, very dynamic form of English. She's actually speaking it very well.

LEMON: Yeah. I spoke with Tim Wise, you know, the anti-racism -- he said it actually makes her a more credible witness because she's real. She didn't have to say that Trayvon said that he was a crazy cracker, or whatever she said. That makes her more credible.

MCWHORTER: Exactly. She's actually telling the truth. And as far as the "cracker" bit goes, I mean, she's dissimulating a little bit in saying that it's not racial, but on the other hand, I think we all understand that there's a power issue here. His using that word "cracker," given that he's black and that there's a history, and that the relationship between young black men and the police, I think, is the main thing keeping us from even beginning to get past race in this country, is such that it's completely different from somebody using the "N" word as a slur. And I think most of us understand that.

LEMON: Thank you, sir.

MCWHORTER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)