“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
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.
SO, SHOULD JACKIE MAGAZINE APOLOGIZE?
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