The Case of the “N-Word”

A recent video of notoriously, anti-Black actress, Gina Rodriguez using the n-word has sparked another debate: Who can and who can’t use the n-word? So, of course, everyone has been showing their asses this week. I wanted to weigh on this touchy subject and I have A LOT to say.

When Black Americans put boundaries on their culture, everyone has to debate why they’re entitled to it. Black people are not even the only ones who have reclaimed slurs used against them. Other marginalized groups have done this, including people in the LGBT community. Why does everyone think they can speak about Black American culture? If you are not Black, you do not have a say in what our culture does. The same way you put boundaries on your own culture, we can do the same.

Anti-Blackness is an issue all over the world. It plays a part in why people do not respect the boundaries we put on our culture and the word we have reclaimed. “How dare the people we view beneath us say what we can or can’t do with their culture?” Black people who enable non-Black people to appropriate our culture are to blame too. They’ve allowed non-Black people to disrespect us in return for their validation. They are comfortable alienating their own race for “acceptance” from non-Black people. I’m looking at Amara La Negra and all the other Black people who jumped in to defend non-Black people’s right to use the n-word. Also, if you are not Black American (Amara), you don’t get to say what Black American artists can or can’t say in their music. That is not your place.

Black people reclaimed a word used to dehumanize us and turned into a term of endearment. We took lemons and made lemonade out of it. But, that’s apart of our culture. Why can’t other groups reclaim slurs used against them and do the same? Why are they adamant about using the n-word? Their excuse is that rappers use the word in their music all the time. They’re imitating the rappers. But rap is Black music and apart of Black culture. It is not made for non-Black people. They just happen to enjoy it. Non-Black people imitate Blackness because they associate Blackness with what’s cool. Black culture is not seen as a legitimate culture to them. It’s only a trend.

If only the non-Black people who fought to use the n-word would fight to dismantle anti-Blackness in their communities. Imagine how different things would be. We are only the same when it’s convenient for the ones who could care less about us any other time.

I also have to bring up the shock value. Gina Rodriguez has been called out for anti-Blackness before. I’ve heard more about her ignorant comments than her actual career.  Any publicity is good publicity. Outrage works for some celebrities. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold people accountable for being anti-Black. I can’t help but think that this was done on purpose, though.

To wrap this up, if you’re not Black, do not speak on Black culture. You are not apart of this, no matter what your Black friend or significant other told you. Keep the n-word out of your mouth. If you want to be like us so bad, reclaim a slur used against your people. Reflect on yourself. Do you even see Black culture as legit or just something that makes you look cool? Do you speak out against anti-Blackness? Or are you only around when its time to show that you don’t respect our cultural boundaries? Do you even view Black people as being on the same level as you?

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