Ta-Nehisi Coates asked if it's OK for white fans to rap along to songs with n-word in them


And the implication that to be white and poor makes one less belonging to what its (usually white) users consider the natural state of white people, e.g. superior. Therefore it’s a term of white supremacy.


But there are always in and out groups… it’s just human nature. Heck, we get them in workplaces… like Marketing against Creative, or Management vs. everybody.

I didn’t quite see that… I mean, the LGBTQ community is vast and not at all tightly knit, after all and the use of ‘f**(**t)’ in that community is somewhat analogous to the n-word (in that they’re both derogatory terms used against a minority that were reclaimed by that minority, but use of those by people who are outside the communities they are used against is taboo). It’s just that the N-word is used a lot more in pop culture.


"Regardless of the N-word
Regardless of the F-bomb
I’m still not gonna sing it
In front of my mom!

Yeah, I’m 36
It’s still a good test
Y’all can take this rap
With a grain of salt
Like the rest!"



ROFL, I see whut you did dere.


I think it’s easy to understand. At least, it is for me, since my dad is a gun toting right-winger who raised me and my siblings with plenty of Fox News platitudes. (He’s moving away from that now that the only military veteran among my siblings, a decorated one at that, is gay)

Those white folks who so strongly want to be able to use it are the ones who buy into the idea that white people have been disenfranchised by the civil rights movement (i.e. Equality feels like Oppression, as discussed before). So it’s a symbolic way they are pushing back against what they feel is special treatment of a group based on their race.

That’s one faction anyways. Then there’s the people that just want to stick it to black folks because they don’t like them. There’s people that fall into both camps.


My paper recycling bin for example!


I never quite understood the resentment I saw in people over the idea they can’t say the word. There was a real attitude of “Oh! We have a black president … I can use this word now.”

I do wonder if I got more of a perspective as being gay I really don’t like it when people use fag as a slur despite what South Park and Lewis C.K. wanted us to believe.

Really context always matters with this stuff.


Oddly, this is a continuance of racism against black people. I.e. “Even though you’re white, and supposedly better than them darkies, you’re still a piece of trash just like them.”


For a while now it’s been a habit of mine to introduce my kid to all the ‘cool’ movies and pop culture that I adored while growing up, as a way to give her a better foundation than the prefab cookie cutter crap that makes up most entertainment nowadays.

The problem therein is that I had never realized just how much homophobic and transphobic content is present in those old flicks; from Sixteen Candles where Sam calls Farmer Ted “a total fag” as a way of warding off his unwanted advances on the bus to Mrs Doubtfire, and the scene where Robin Williams’ character’s son sees him peeing standing up while in Nanny-drag, and freaks completely the fuck out.

Though dismayed, I used these moments to talk to Girlizmatic about why such behavior is now unacceptable in a civilized society, and how we have to consciously strive to do better.


As a white person, I just think about it like this. Will my life be less if I never say the word in question? No. Will my life be enriched if I do say the word in question? No. So why would I risk offending a large segment of the population? It makes no sense.


Yup. We are the boiling frogs, in that culture has changed slowly enough that it’s easy to forget how different the world was.

I mean, even Mel Brooks played homophobia for laughs in Men in Tights. “Fagelas?


Not at all. I object to the amplification of the power and meaning of divisive words when we not only say when they can be used (e.g. wife vs stranger) but who can use it ever (i.e. stranger isn’t allowed to call her husband honey either because she’s not the right sort of person).

When a word has derived negative power and meaning through context, the solution isn’t to say “well, these certain people aren’t allowed to use it.” The solutions are to not use the word or change power of the word by creating new context. Not by reinforcing the original context.


Yeah, I’ve been meaning to re-visit Beverly Hills Cop and I expect to cringe though a lot of it. I guess it is realistic about the attitudes the time and for the most part some are really are great movies.

Probably a good excuses for teaching moments and context.


Oh, you mean " nagger" ? (with apologies to South Park & one of its best episodes ever. )

In all seriousness, two comments.(one of which I’m removing because apparently,in Slashdot style, things which upset folks’ worldview are automatically rated “offensive”
The more one bans a word, the more power it has. By comparison, look at that recent crazy Canada court ruling that the French Canadians can say “fuck” because its use is endemic amongst them, but the English Canadians cannot because apparently they don’t say it enough.

Somehow I suspect using, say, ‘jigaboo’ in public will get you in just as much trouble as using ‘nigger,’ yet nobody even mentions the existence of that word.


It never occurs to me to use the word, but I like this phrasing of the problem with it.


The words themselves don’t have “power” at all; words (like all symbols) derive their meaning from context. That context changes depending on who is using the word or symbol.

Asking “why is it OK for a black guy say the n-word but not a white guy?” is kind of like asking “why is it OK for a Hindu Swami to wear an article of clothing adorned with Swastikas but not a German national?”



That’s why it’s a tricky balancing act. Groups reclaim words that were used against them to take away that negative meaning, and turn it back into something positive. But at the same time, there often are still those out there who use that word in a hurtful way. Also, that “original context” is often not even terribly original in the first place. Such as in this case, where the word in question is simply a corruption of a word that simply means “black”. So the original context is benign, but it subsequently developed a bad connotation through imperialism, and bigotry, with the notion that black = inferior. Obviously, for many of us, it does not have that connotation. But it is prudent to remember that it is still used by bigots.

I am definitely in the “reclaim all the words” camp. Reacting to a word choice on a visceral level would mean that I am not in control of my faculties, and not being truly critical. I see it as analogous to vaccinations, where small controlled exposure in a positive context can prevent one from being overwhelmed later in a less-favorable context. And if somebody is being a douche, I prefer to call them out on their actual ideas and positions rather than them “using the wrong word”.


Who there with the what where?