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Dear White People

Posted by on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:11 PM
  • 307 Replies

Gosh I don't know, maybe it is just me, but is this just stupid or what?

ONE: she is a comedian, and a raunchy nasty offensive one at that, WHY is there press on her twitter?!

What's the big deal?
 
 
 
Gwyneth Paltrow attends 'El Hormiguero' Tv Show at Vertice Studios on October 29, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. Lisa Lampanelli attends 65th Annual Writers Guild East Coast Awards After Party at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill on February 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)/(Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/WireImage)

Gwyneth Paltrow attends 'El Hormiguero' Tv Show at Vertice Studios on October 29, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. Lisa Lampanelli attends 65th Annual Writers Guild East Coast Awards After Party at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill on February 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)/(Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/WireImage)

"Now, white people, you can't say ni**a/Sorry gotta take it back.  Now, black people, we're not ni**as/God made us better than that." - Lupe Fiasco, "Audobon Ballroom," Food &Liquor II - The Great American Rap Album, Part 1

To paraphrase Lupe Fiasco: White people, you can't say the n-word.

If for some reason, this current "All Black Everything" moment - where gold medalists, TV hosts, presidents, pop artists, golfers, Supreme Court justices, etc. are black - if this moment has you confused or if for some reason you think that 2 Chainz or Trinidad James has authorized you to use the n-word at will, please refer to Lupe Fiasco's "Audubon Ballroom." He apologizes and rescinds your "right" to use the word and he does so by reminding us of our recent history: "Martin, Baldwin, Audubon Ballroom . . ."

Sadly, we have had this debate or public conversation too many times to recount here. I distinctly remember the NAACP actually burying the word - or at least they ceremoniously buried it - and my hope was that our white friends and family would take the hint. You can't say it.

Clearly black people have reclaimed and re-purposed the word over scores of years, but not even your favorite rapper disassociates the n-word from its white supremacist history.  For a long time now, I have challenged those who criticize rappers for using the n-word in "positive" contexts to actually listen to the music.  More often than not, the deployment of the n-word in popular rap music is not done so in some utopian, "positive" vein.

The meanings of the n-word, especially when used by black artisans, are nuanced and multi-faceted.  Believe it or not, the meaning and the use of the n-word often varies by both situational context and intonation.  Sorry, but because of these complexities - we gotta take it back.

Recently, shock comic Lisa Lampanelli referred to her "beyotch" (in this case meaning: good friend) Girls star Lena Dunham, as her "ni**a" on Twitter.  You might recall that Gwyneth Paltrow was also seduced by the n-word celebrations in Kanye West and Jay-Z's infectious "Ni**as in Paris."  She too lost her way on Twitter.  What both of these women and these instances of white people using the n-word has in common is that each person believes that her association with black people - men in these cases - affords them the right to use the n-word by association.

While I am sure that their black friends will back them up on this (and some have), I know of no rule in the cultural history of black folk that extends the kind of racial complexity and sociolinguistic felicity required to use the n-word to folk outside of black speech communities unless they are unabashedly racist; I know of no rule that permits them to use the term frivolously and with the sociolinguistic benefits of our hard fought battle to reclaim the term itself.

And that's where these seemingly harmless uses of the n-word by white folk, enamored with black popular culture, actually rub many black folk the wrong way.  Even if you don't completely buy in to the deconstructed, de-fanged uses of the n-word within the black community, you have to acknowledge that these nuanced uses of the word reflect deliberate, contested attempts to reclaim (and re-purpose) one of the most hateful, offensive, and degrading terms used in the history of white supremacy and racism in this nation.

The very fact that you can use the n-word (on social media) in these ways comes from a history of struggle within the black community.  And although this linguistic struggle to use the n-word in different contextual situations within black speech communities is at best culturally complex and at worst disconnected from this nation's history of racism, it still represents black people's struggle.

That means, that no one rapper or no series of inter-racial relationships can in and of himself or in and of itself, permit any white person to use the word in any public way, ever.

Otherwise you simply risk the probability of being seen as a racist

by on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:11 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Radarma
by "OneDar" on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:12 PM
5 moms liked this

 TWO: why the hell can "white people" not use this word, or derivation of, when used as affection?!

Political correctness, run amok.

SMDWH

punky3175
by Punky on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:14 PM
29 moms liked this
Why would you WANT to use the word?
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
futureshock
by Ruby Member on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:15 PM
11 moms liked this

I think it is pretty dumb to use the n word no matter who you are, but it is especially dumb for white people to use it.

Radarma
by "OneDar" on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:16 PM

 

Quoting punky3175:

Why would you WANT to use the word?

 Ask those who DO.

 

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:17 PM


Quoting Radarma:

 TWO: why the hell can "white people" not use this word, or derivation of, when used as affection?!

Political correctness, run amok.

SMDWH

Because a white person (usually) is not called a *n***a* therefore a white person cannot refer to another person (black person) as such.  It is something for people who can both be called the same word.

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:18 PM
8 moms liked this

I don't like the word and I can't imagine using it.  For me, personally, when I hear some one using that word, I cringe.  It is distasteful.

I don't listen to music that contains this word.  Not by choice.  I don't care who is rapping it, singing it or why.

When I hear kids using it to refer to their friends, I cringe.


FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:19 PM
5 moms liked this

I don't like it when I hear black people calling each other by that word.  

To me, it's just an ugly word.

But...........people do what they do.

cabrandy03
by Member on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:21 PM

eh, if it's okay for a black person to say I don't see why a white person can't.

Radarma
by "OneDar" on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:22 PM

 

Quoting cabrandy03:

eh, if it's okay for a black person to say I don't see why a white person can't.

 Yep, that's the crux.

coupon_ash_back
by on Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:25 PM
8 moms liked this
I'm black and hate it whether its with a er or not.
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