Oprah’s ‘Color Purple’ Co-Star, Rae Dawn Chong, Apologizes for Calling Her a ‘Field N—er’

Actress Rae Dawn Chong says the comment was meant as a compliment

Last Updated: July 24, 2014 @ 11:52 AM

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."

Also read: Why Does Rush Limbaugh Even Want to Say the N-Word?

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.

Also read: Paula Deen's Multimillion-Dollar Disaster: What's the Cost of 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." 

Also read: Zimmerman Trial Witness Rachel Jeantel on N-Word Happy Rush Limbaugh: He Sure Sounded Racist

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.

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