Controversy: Should Magazine Re-apologize to Rihanna for Calling Her the N-Word?

Updated on Dec 26, 2011
black patent leather Chanel coat
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crystaldots 's Thoughts:

“You know African Americans use the n-word to their brothers? Well that’s the way we use the c-word.” – Rihanna in November 2011’s British Vogue.


While Rihanna has made it loud and clear during an interview in the November 2011’s edition of British Vogue that she’s comfortable using the word, ‘c*nt,’ as a way of endearment to her friends like Katy Perry, she still doesn’t want you to call her a n****bitch.

A month after her publicized Vogue interview we now see a bigger controversy unravel when Dutch magazine, Jackie published a recent article calling Rihanna (and basically anyone who’s black) a n****bitch. The news spread like wildfire and even Rihanna took it to her Twitter to express her anger.

Even though Jackie’s editor-in-chief, Eva Hoeke, issued a public apology stating that the article was supposed to be a “joke” and quit her job (all within a week’s span), Jackie’s publisher, Yves Gijrath, still claims that there’s nothing wrong with the racial slur. Fuming the flames, Gijrath even added that Jackie will not offer an official apology. So, what’s worse, not issuing the apology or mainstreaming a racial slur?


The real question is though, why is it that some black people can use the n-word or other ‘derogatory’ terms with each other, while others are labeled as ‘racists?’ Since race can be such a sensitive topic, there may not be clear answers to this question.

The n-word generally represents one of these two things: companionship or inferiority. The n-word is used loosely in the hip-hop community, as a way of identifying each other, almost like unifying a community. In this context, both parties know each other well enough that by saying such word would not inflict conflict. In contrast, Jackie magazine, a publication whose demographics are primarily white, the n-word is not as socially accepting, thus causing a tweet lash out from the Bajan singer.

Thus, mainstreaming such a word is like saying it’s all right to be using such terminology in public. You may all be asking, “Well, isn’t the hip-hop community mainstreaming the n-word already anyway?” Yes and no. Yes, hip-hop has come a long way, and the sub-culture has finally become a worldwide phenomenon. Amongst the black culture, the n-word is considered acceptable in spoken language than formal language, hence seen in music and informal settings rather than at award shows, etc. As a result, the media treats the n-word like a curse word: it gets censored and is frowned upon.


When it comes to journalism and media, formality is one of the rules one must abide by. Aside from Jackie being quite a conservative fashion magazine, with primarily white readers, it’s still a formal publication. Thus, using the word, n****bitch, is not appropriately used. So, for the publisher to not issue an official apology is basically a slap in the face to Rihanna and the black culture itself. Not only is it a bad business venture (after all, Rihanna is more popular than Lady Gaga on Facebook), it’s also a poor taste in journalism.

What do you guys think of the whole controversy? Okay to use racial slurs in formal magazines, or is Rihanna overreacting? Leave your comments below!

By Crystal (watermoolen)

Main Image via W Magazine February 2010
Supplemental Image via Jackie December 2011

Comments (23)

andreeaberbece on July 06
rachellem2 on May 17
That's terrible. I'm half black and I hate when people use that word.
Radical1 on May 07
Honestly, the c-word, n-word. Don't say it. People find it offensive whether you use it towards them or someone else. Get some class, you know?
F4SHI0N on May 01
MyAlexasStore on April 23
They should apologize! Unbelievable they did that in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
kss_23 on April 12
Great article! I just read it today. I think Jackie should apologize. Although people use the N word among themselves, they still think that being called the N word by others is offensive because they see others as people outside their community. We, others, are not part of that and therefore, we should respect that. If they are not using the word in formal situations, then so do we.
Style_Journey on April 11
Rihanna looks amazing wearing this leather coat! hope she's fine! l think the mag should apologize.
April_Rain on April 03
I don't think Rhianna is overreacting. The mag should definitely apologize!
theskinnybitch on February 22
Jackie definitely should have issued an apology. That's pretty offensive
Roxx on February 17
I love Rihanna, i hope she didn't take it too hard
roxx_lady on February 12
Love this article! And love Rihanna's leather Chanel coat. You REALLY do great articles! Very inspirational at that! Plus one :)
catiebeatty on February 09
I think both words are AWFUL. I never use either and still take offense when my English friends use the c-word around me. So yes, I think they should appologize.
OHSOladylike on February 03
WOW! Is this for real?? How could a publication company use such language? This is just problematic as the Italian vogue "slave" jewelery references
catiebeatty on February 09
I agree! It makes me think of when I was at Good Will the other day and they had a Black History Month display out and it was all animal print stuff! Cuz you know that's what you think of when someone mentions the march on Washington or the bus boycot: jungle animals. Sooo offensive. I may write a letter.
crystaldots on February 08
Yes, unfortunately. However, the controversy so far has pretty much died down. Still, I see that 'race' will always be problematic in a lot of these issues.
curlybrain on February 02
FASHBERRIES on January 26
totally uncool
candydoll on January 20
That's really below the belt!
VersatileMoTIF on January 18
love this article!!
citysleek on January 11
Great article! <3
diajengma on January 11
great article as usual crystal! i havent read anything about this and after i read your article, i check Rihanna's twitter lol. yeah i think rhemel is right, they have gone too far. being a joke or not is just not apropriated. kisses
Lucyss on January 09
wow, i really didnt know that happened..great article!
fernandafgm on January 08
I think maybe they have gone too far, there are so many good names that they could call Rihanna, why the n bitch?! Being a joke or not that is just not apropriated!
Vintajay on January 02
I think that unless someone label's them self as something, no one else has the right to label them of call them names. Especially when the n word has been such a controversy already, it goes far beyond a "joke." Also, i don't think joking about anything in a magazine is professional, leave it to SNL!
maryiangge on December 29
oh my! didnt know about this till now. i really learn things when i read your articles crystal! :)
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