In the wake of Gwyneth Paltrow’s much talked about tweet, a couple of writers have echoed what I said back in January: As a community, we can’t stay silent when our artists–particularly those in music–use the N-word gratuitously, in the name of “keepin’ it real” and because they’re too lazy to say what they really mean, but then get bent out of shape when non-black people start using it, too. If we put it out to a global audience–which we have–then let’s not be surprised when everyone else wants to use it, especially when they’re trying to get their swag on.
Over on BlackEnterprise.com, Janell Hazelwood writes:
Some of us are mad at Paltrow, but the person to blame is right in the mirror. The culprit behind the bru-ha-ha is our constant affirmation of the N-word’s use in our everyday lives, our daily habits and our consumption of popular media that uses the word as casually as a “Hi” or “Bye.”
Further, she states:
Many of my favorite hip-hop and R&B hits include multiple use of the word (as well as the B-word). In supporting these things, which have international reach, we let the world know that it’s okay for them to embrace the use of the N-word— no matter what their race or ethnicity is.
On TheRoot.com, Damon Young writes:
As a black person who occasionally uses the word and frequently listens to music incorporating it, I realize that my activity has progressively weakened any moral high ground I’d have about the use of “nigger” or “nigga,” and I suspect I’m not alone in feeling this way.
I won’t say that our feelings have “evolved” — evolution implies a change both organic and positive, and I’m not so sure that the gradual cultural softening of “nigger” is a good thing — but every time it is used in popular songs written by the president’s favorite rappers or freely incorporated by someone speaking in front of an audience that’s not all black, a piece of the shield of self-righteous outrage surrounding the word chips off.
Like I said, until we have a massive internal conversation and make some different decisions, we have no right to be outraged. Period.