In the year 2010 it seems fruitless to ask myself the question. Nevermind the fact that my people have overcome physical enslavement, social discrimination, countless acts of violence, and the assassination of many of our leaders, to see one of our own take seat in the most powerful chair in America.
I say that, not to sound militant or separatist– I am neither. But rather to set the context and paint the backdrop. Race aside, over time America has housed many “isms” and as a progressive yet wishful thinker, I like to believe that as a country we have made major strides in making the Bill of Rights applicable to all.
You have to pardon me, while I channeled my inner Obama. Now that the scene has been set, I will gracefully take off my social activist cap, and aggressively rock my blogger fitted. So my buddy and I were in the car listening to the DJ Khaled screaming- laced track “Im So Hood”.
Anyone who has ever had the displeasure of listening to the high-pitched, kindergarten-esque voice of DJ Khaled would know my plight. As we listened to the Palestinian DJ ramble about how he is the best, we could help but to notice his excessive use of the N word.
DJ Khaled is viable name in Hip-Hop, and by the looks of it has been given a honorary pass to use the word. Despite not being black, he has been embraced by the black community and the Hip- Hop community alike, and no one really seems to question his usage of the word. However, I would argue that Eminem is far more coveted in the eyes of the Hip- Hop community and much more recognizable to the black community– and I am 100 % sure that he has not been given N****R rights.
I know what the popular and obvious response to that statement would be, but can you see where I am going with this?
This is a two-fold issue. For blacks, what gives someone the right to call you the
N word? and for non-blacks, what gives you the right to publicly use the N word?
Given the controversy and history surrounding the word, I find it rather embarrassing to ask myself these kinds of questions. I will not insult your intelligence by providing you the history, or the meaning behind the word, but I’m quite sure that Martin and Malcolm would be turning over in their graves at the sight of the question.
Admittedly, I am an internal user of the word. I like many others, have bought into the idea of it being a term of endearment/another word for friend, buddy etc. That said, I am extremely disturbed when I hear it come off the lips of non-blacks. Hypocrisy at it’s finest– I know.
So what’s the solution? With it’s excessive use within the African-American community, and it’s popularity in Hip- Hop music and in pop culture how can we effectively, and in good conscious regulate the use of the word? Can blacks really get mad if a white rapper who grew up around all black people in the South Side of Jamaica, Queens decides to use the N word in his music? Given the standard, I think not.
Am I being dramatic? Afterall it is only a word, and has as much power as you give it right? I understand that the word has the power of connection amongst those who have come from similar backgrounds and shared experiences. However, I also understand that people have literally died behind the word– and that deserves respect.
Confused by the dichotomy, I pose the question to you, Who has the right to call you a N****R ?