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January 9, 2012

Social Politics: Should "Others" Be Able To Use The "N" Word Freely?!?!

While watching Jay-Z and Kanye West perform at Staples Center in Los Angeles in December at the Watch The Throne concert, I was recently met with an experience that made me wonder is this type of occurrence something black folks should focus on or let go in this day and age.  On Kanye's song "All Of The Lights" off his 5th studio album "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy", he speaks of a world without pop superstar Michael Jackson, following his untimely death in 2010, with the line, "Something wrong. I hold my head. MJ gone.  Our n*&^% dead."  Of course this is one of my favorite lines on the song, but when all of Staples Center chimed in on this part, I can't lie and say that it didn't bother me and make me a bit uncomfortable.  Especially since the crowd was primarily comprised of "others". 

While performing, Kanye even stopped the music and talked directly to the crowd about using the "n" word in that instance and that he was giving everyone a pass that tonight.  The entire stadium laughed and as the music began again, Kanye repeated the line.  This time, it seemed as though the stadium said it even louder and with more enthusiasm.  Kanye said they could get a pass that night, but it really made me think.  Hip Hop/Rap music has exposed other races to black culture, specifically, our slang, swag, etc.  Is it wrong for Hip Hop artists or black people in general to expect "others" to bleep out the "n" word every time it is used in a song they are listening to?  Do "others" sing songs like this in the privacy of their homes and use the "n" word behind closed doors?

I recall several years back Latino artists like J.Lo and Fat Joe also being called on the carpet for using the "n" word in songs that they recorded.  Are Latinos who don't consider themselves to be "black" allowed to use the word because they maybe grew up in the same struggle or near and around African Americans? Or should they be restricted from using the word as well?

I've been pondering this issue for awhile now and I wanted to speak to my readers and get feedback.  I really want to know have you ever experienced peers or strangers reciting song lyrics, thinking it is okay to use the "n" word, just because the artist does?  Do you let your friends who are "others" call you the "n" word or other black people that word in front of you?  Have you ever had to stop a friend, colleague or acquaintance in their tracks because they thought it was permissible to use it in a song or in a joking manner?

I know that black people have a tendency to be identified as "sensitive" when it comes to racial/social issues like these.  A lot of "others" use the fact that black people call each other the word and use it so much that in return, they cannot call others on the carpet for using the word as it would be a double standard.  I myself have limited my use of the word tremendously, and am still working to erase it from my vocabulary for good. 

Am I being too sensitive by saying "others" shouldn't be permitted to use the word whether as a joke, a line in a song, or term of endearment for any race or people?  Do you think these people should be called on the carpet for their use of the word no matter how much black people may still use the word?  Have you ever been in this predicament? How did it make you feel? How did you respond?

I would love your feedback!!!!!



  1. Disrespect is disrespect is disrespect . . . who's saying it/doing it to whom and under what circumstances changes nothing.

  2. Ah, the age ol' use or not to use it. Well, I know there are supporters for each end of the spectrum. However, I'd say a good rule of thumb is if you shouldn't say it to Jesus than you probably shouldn't say
    But forreal forreal there's a few things I think folks could stand to re-evaluate. Like when females call eachother 'B****es'. "Hey B****!......I missed you B****!!....That's my B****!!! What you doin tonight B****??!!! But the minute there dude calls them the "B-Word"......Who the effff you callin a B****???!!!!
    So, back to the original question at hand.... Like I said I think there are a few words and situations we as black folks could stand to re-evaluate. Because in my opinion I believe the "others" are so comfortable saying it because alot of us non-chalantly say to eachother all the time like it's all good. Bottom line and as "cliche" as it sounds, our grandparents and great grandparents fought to be treated equal, eat in the same restaurants, sit in the front of the bus and NOT to called names like N****. So, let's have some respect for eachother....have some respect for ourselves and maybe then the "others" will have
    more respect for us.....just something to think about


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