Rae Dawn Chong, the actress who played Squeak in Steven Spielberg's 1985 adaptation of "The Color Purple," released a video on Friday explaining why she chose to refer to Oprah Winfrey as "a field n—er" during an earlier interview.
"Okay, in reference to the giant shit storm I caused this morning — thank you, TMZ — I just want to say, out of context it's a most unfortunate choice of words and I regret it," Chong said in a YouTube video. "In context, I was actually complimenting Oprah."
The latest N-word controversy erupted after TMZ posted a 2-minute excerpt from Chong's Friday interview on "Matty P's Radio Happy Hour." While Chong did not hesitate to criticize her "Color Purple" co-star for being "a great brown-noser" and a "fat chick," she did compliment the media mogul for changing society's thinking about "a woman of a certain size and certain shade." And then dropped the N-word.
"She took a woman — if you look at the way she looks — she looks like, 60 years ago she would have been a housekeeper, luckily," Chong said. "She would not have been a house n—er, she would have been a field n—er. Let's be really raw here … we have to give her props!"
TMZ positioned her comments as an attack that "stooped so low, she even took shots at her appearance and invoked slave imagery."
In her video response, Chong asked viewers to "listen to the whole interview," and said she regrets using the N-word due to all of the racial turmoil that has erupted since George Zimmerman was declared not guilty in Trayvon Martin's death.
"Do I have issues with her? Yes. Am I perfect? No. Do I take back everything I said? No. Am I in pain that it caused pain — to me, to her? Yes," Chong said. "Would I use the N-word in reference to something historical? Probably not, because this is such a horrible time right now — with the Trayvon Martin thing, with all of the racial issues — it just is ripe for the picking, so I regret that."
Watch Chong plead her case in the video below, followed by the portion of the radio interview that TMZ posted.