A question for the black people reading this only (even though I know white people will answer anyway because y’all can’t help yourselves): Are you opposed to non-black people using or referring to you by the n-word?
This is a topic that came up for discussion on this week’s episode of State of the Culture with Joe Budden, Remy Ma, Scottie Beam and Jinx. Two weeks after she jumped out of the window for Bill Cosby and discredited the more than 60 women who came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, Remy Ma was at it again with her loud and misinformed opinions—this time on who should and should not be able to use the n-word.
Let me say up front that I really love Remy. I want her to win. I also want her to shut up right now.
Lil Xan (who?) is a Mexican, non-black rapper that I have never heard of, so I had to Google him. He is a 22-year-old high school dropout from Redlands, Calif., who once said in an interview with Revolt that he thought 2Pac was “boring.” He was recently caught on tape using the slur while arguing with someone in Indianapolis.
In the clip shown on SOTC, Xan (who?) is gesticulating ridiculously while yelling at another person in what looks like a mall food court. It is unclear if the person he is yelling at is black, but if I had to guess, I’d say no. The reason I say no is because there is no part of the video in which we see Lil Xan getting his shit pushed in for calling a black man the n-word.
The person being yelled at looks to be standing there dumbfounded as a companion stands in front of him, possibly blocking him from running over and punching Lil Xan’s clock because really, my guy?
Lil Xan is with a group of people, one of whom is actively trying to steer him away from the drama and presumably “holding him back” (because let’s be real, we know that boy was not really going to run up on nobody) as he yells at the stranger who is mysteriously not kicking his ass in the food court.
“I’m rich, nigga,” Xan yells, sounding like Peter Brady when his voice changed. “I’m rich!”
Then a bunch of unintelligible shit and then, “You broke! Aha!”
After showing the clip, Joey polled the panel and asked them for their thoughts on non-black people using the n-word. To summarize:
- Scottie said that while she is not outraged, she would prefer if non-black people did not use that word. She said she will never be OK with that.
- Jinx was concerned with Xan’s entire energy, not just his use of the word. He said he couldn’t imagine what would happen if Xan said it in areas that Jinx frequents, and Joey reminded him that Xan would never say it in those areas.
Remy said she hears the word so frequently that she is not offended by it. She said she feels like people pick and choose which words they are going to be offended by.
“When it comes to the word ‘nigga’ or ‘nigger’ or ‘niggas’ or however you want to do it, I don’t usually get offended regardless of what your nationality is if I don’t feel like you are using it as a racial slur,” the rapper said.
“I hear it so frequently from people that are not just black people. Like Fat Joe. He’s the blackest Spanish guy that I know on the planet earth,” she continued. “And I’ve never questioned it or felt a type of way or anything because he’s not as brown as me, or because he speaks Spanish, or because he’s Cuban.”
Remy said that she has seen black people use the word as a racial slur, so she’s OK with people like Lil Xan using it as well.
“If you want other people to respect your culture or your race or your nationality or whatever, you have to take that same responsibility,” she said. “You can’t say ‘Hey, if you look like me, or you’re this, you can use it but if you look like this, you can’t use it.’ If you’re against the word, you have to be against the word all the way around the world.”
Scottie asked Remy, “Why can’t something just be for us?”
“Because that’s prejudiced, that’s why,” Remy replied.
Remy did make it clear that she doesn’t want anyone using the word to refer to her, no matter their color.
As Joey tried to convey to Remy, there is nuance here, and she completely missed it in the same way that white people who want to use the n-word with impunity miss it.
There is a historical context and attachment to that word that means something, and we cannot ignore that. No one should.
It was once weaponized against us. It was used to demean us and identify us as less than. And while there are some who would argue those are the very reasons that none of us should use the word, I would posit that the reclamation of it is not unlike the way women sometimes casually refer to each other as “bitch” or “ho.”
It is a marker. It is symbolic of a shared history and struggle that people outside of the circle cannot relate to. They don’t and won’t understand it, and that is evidenced by their even wanting to use the word in the first place.
I don’t want non-black people using the n-word, and I don’t want men calling me a “bitch” or a “ho.”
It’s not your word. Don’t use it.