EDITORIAL: Our N-Word Conundrum

A s the Rihanna-Jackie Magazine incident shows, we can’t have it both ways with the N-word. zv7qrnb

I recently wrote an op-ed for Loop21.com on the Rihanna-Jackie Magazine “niggabitch” blow up.  In case you’re not familiar, here’s the short version:

Dutch magazine Jackie referred to Rihanna in the following way: “She has street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate niggabitch and displays that gladly. . .”  Folks got wind of it and were outraged, Rihanna ripped the magazine a new one via social media, and editor of said magazine resigned soon thereafter.

But the situation raises a bunch of issues.  First, what’s our role as a community, especially one that exerts an outsized influence on global pop culture?  This incident shows that we have to come to a decision as a community about how we’re going to treat the N-word and all of its variants:

Racism isn’t going away, but our being ambivalent about the use of the N-word is, at the very least, confusing. . .We have to come to terms with a simple fact: We can’t have it both ways. Doing so cedes the moral high ground.  If you would cuss out or take a swing at a white person for using the word, then maybe it’s not okay to be using in the first place. It can’t be okay for black people to normalize it in the public sphere, but then get upset when white people say it. Either it’s a despicable word, in which case it shouldn’t be in general usage, or it’s not, in which case everyone should feel free to use it without repercussion.

Read the full op-ed here, and let us know what you think.

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Rob Fields is the founder and publisher of Bold As Love Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @robfields.