In a blog entry at Loop21, Rob Fields reflects on the scandal over Jackie magazine’s use of the n-word in referring to Rihanna. He says that African Americans have misused the pejorative expression for so long that it has been co-opted by other cultures. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves for its misuse.
Poor Eva Hoeke!
If you’re just getting up to speed on this, 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.
I found it difficult to get very worked up about this for two reasons. Yes, the Dutch editor’s choice of words were stupid, but I don’t think it was done with malicious intent; she was trying to offer an honorific to an artist she admires. Second, and more importantly, black people, it’s our fault.
It’s been a slippery slope, but over the last 20 years, we’ve allowed, and in many ways enabled, the normalization of the N-word and its variants, particularly through hip hop. Now, it’s true the word has a long and despicable history in and outside our community, a holdover from this country’s overtly racist past. If you’ve never read Jabari Asim’s brilliant book The N-Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, And Why, it’s worth it for the 400-year overview of the word’s evolution.
Read Rob Fields’ entire blog entry at Loop21.