ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Local race and multicultural experts say the toast remark and the racial slur made by radio host Rob Lederman this week, represents a power dynamic that goes back decades.

“We can see how this progressed, that this is a conversation among important people about those that are not important. Those that are not important can be their playthings,” said Dr. Cecil Foster, UB. “The first thing in the morning they can joke about them, and how they totally removed the humanity of the black woman.”

Experts say the racial slur is meant to describe people who are mixed race and it dates back to slavery and the practice of raping female slaves.

“Rape was institutionalized, and it meant that women were the plaything of the plantation owner to be taken whenever he chose to. As I always say, when I look in the mirror I see the color of rape,” said Henry Louis Taylor Jr., UB director of the university’s Center for urban studies. “It’s a reminder of a time when African American women had no control over their bodies.” 

The controversial racial slur is something that many area residents take offense to, especially those with children who are mixed race.

Local father Eddie Haspett says his son Dominic, turns three in May. Dominic is Mixed race and Haspett says comments like Lederman’s are concerning.

“Here we go again! Someone putting their foot in their mouth not understanding the complications. What they think is okay to say, is really not OK to say and it goes back a long time,” said Haspett. “All you can hope for is that people see the good in people and through the eyes of a kid, kids don’t see race they’re a blank slate they don’t know right from wrong, Back from white.”

Buffalo Common Council President weighs-in in the video below.

Angelica Morrison is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.