Tag Archives: rappers

Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyonce, Jay-Z & the N-Word

There supposedly is outrage over Gwyneth Paltrow using the word “niggas” when referring to her besties Jay-Z and Beyonce during a performance in Paris recently. Many think her use of the word was inappropriate. Of course it was, but it was equally inappropriate for two influential black multi-milloniare rappers to title their song, “Niggas in Paris”.

If Jay-Z and Beyonce don’t have a problem with her dong it then neither should anyone else. For Paltrow to not feel any qualms about using the song title to reference them, it must be how they refer to themselves in private as well. Kind of gets you into psyche of Beyonce who once stated Paltrow was who she aspired to be, despite the fact that Beyonce is ultra-successful in her own right.

I have gone on record stating I find nothing empowering about embracing a word that has caused so many people so much pain for centuries. I find it irresponsible for entertainers to use it to sell records. For people as affluent as the Jay-Zs and Kanyes of the world, being called a nigger or “nigga” by a white person is probably no more than a pebble in their shoes, a frustration they peel off as they relax in the confines of their secluded neighborhoods or five-star hotels. For the vast majority of black people ,however, being called a nigger or “nigga” by a white person is much more than that. It’s remembering the time that white off-site co-worker who was so warm and friendly during phone conferences turn cold and distant when she discovered the person on the other end of those calls is black. It’s remembering the time when he or she was the only black person at an employee conference and had to listen to white co-workers crack offending jokes and rap those lyrics to see if they could elicit a response. It’s remembering the time when that black person finally decided to speak to management about it, only to be told he or she was overreacting.

Yes, Jay-Z and Beyonce may not have a problem with it, but I and millions of other people not living in the rarefied heights which Jay-Z and Kanye continually rap about do have issues with it. We are the one who are keeping it real by fighting against the stereotypes that have held us down. We do it to make life better for those who come after us, not the same but in a better environment. As long as we refer to ourselves as niggers or “niggas” other races will feel comfortable referring to us niggers, too. Period. Sure, other races refer to themselves in derogatory terms, but they do this in private conversations. Black artists are the only ones actively promoting negative images of themselves. All in a quest for money and fame while not thinking about the young minds who absorb that nonsense, the urban professionals who have to constantly fight against that nonsense and the older people who had to endure that nonsense. Talk about crabs in a barrel.

Time Out for the N-Word

Nigger, Nigga or however you want to pronounce is, unfortunately, a part of America’s – no the world’s – lexicon. It isn’t going away anytime soon no matter how much I wish it would.

By now, you may have seen the clip of Sherri Shepherd taking Barbara Walters to task for using the word “nigger” when reporting on the name of Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s family’s hunting ranch. At first, Sherri stated she didn’t like the way Barbara pronounced it. Then, she admitted she didn’t like hearing the word come from white people.

Neither do I.

But the one thing I’m not is a hypocrite. Not only do I not like hearing the word uttered by whites I absolutely loathe hearing it come from the mouths of black people, especially young black people. The popularity of rap music, particularly gangster – excuse me, gangsta – rap has made it hard to escape the word. Our young people – black, white, Hispanic and Asian – think nothing of saying this word openly in mixed company. True story: It was pointed out to one young, black woman who repeatedly said the word at her place of employment that it was rude. She was dumbfounded. “But everybody says nigger,” was her defense. This scene didn’t play out this year; it happened over ten years ago.

If Barbara Walters can’t say “nigger”, then Lil’ Wayne and other rappers shouldn’t be given a pass, either. My deepest concern for black youths is not having an understanding or appreciation of their race’s history with all its injustices, struggles and accomplishments. No other race has taken such a mean-spirited, painful and derogatory term for their culture and turned it into an acceptable mainstream expression. I have never heard a Jewish person greet another with “Hey, kike!” I have never heard a Jewish comic joke about life in a concentration camp, either. And because they don’t make light of their culture’s dark moments, it is not acceptable to disrespect them. I can’t say the same for my race and culture.

And to those who say there is a difference between “nigger” and “nigga”, I say there isn’t. You do yourselves and others a serious disservice by promoting the use of this word in whatever variation as a means of empowerment. It may be empowering if you are a millionaire rapper who travels with an entourage that includes bodyguards. It is hurtful and humiliating to the man sitting at the bus stop being attacked by racist skinheads and the man tied to the back of a truck and dragged until dismemberment.

We as a race have come too far to cling to this disparaging reminder of the past. Let’s do away with this word. Let’s make it unacceptable for anyone to say “nigger”, regardless of race, color or socioeconomic background. We can do it. I know this thought makes me a somewhat of a Pollyanna, but a girl can dream, can’t she?