people are still smoulderingover the controversy surrounding J Lo and her new song, I'm Real, which features Ja Rule. In the song J Lo uses the N word. For some it was no big deal. For others it was crazy, and further reflected the misguided direction we are headed in when such an offensive word is all but commonplace.The question one needs to ask is, if Latino artists like J Lo or even Fat Joe use the N word, can we turn around and refer to them as "spics"? If Asian artists like Q-Bert or DJ Honda use the N word, can I call them "chinks" or "gooks"? Some will point out that black artists like Puffy, Busta Rhymes and even Ja Rule use the word all the time. So why shouldn't someone else pick up on it?
It's interesting to note that the other day Puffy was on some TV show saying he'll give J Lo a pass for using the word. Puff apparently gave an audience of mostly non-African Americans a pass when he did a concert in San José last year where he led the young crowd in chanting "Fuck you nigga."
This is where we run into problems. Some of us work or find ourselves in racially tense or outright hostile situations. We're doing everything we can to maintain and combat such scenarios, and here comes Puff or some other ignorant rapper saying he's handing out passes and granting permission to use the word.
So now we have to deal with bosses, co-workers or classmates running over to us, using the word and hiding behind a smug smirk, saying Puff gave them permission. I recall one cat who explained how embarrassed and pissed off he felt when he walked by a group of white frat boys and they started singing the hook to Jay-Z's song Jigga My Nigga.
He knew they were taunting him, but what was he gonna do? How's he gonna prove they were dissing him? All they're doing is singing the hook to a damn song that Jay-Z performed on an MTV Awards show and led the crowd to say in unison. Now my homeboy has to go through some Jedi mind tricks and convince himself that these white boys aren't calling him "nigger," they're just using the friendly, benign version of the word, "nigga" -- as in "bro."
I'm standing on line in a store and hear two non-hiphop-looking white kids start saying, "What's up, my nigga?" Are they doing it get a rise out of me? Are they really embracing the supposed new meaning of the word? When folks who aren't in the know hear this and look at me to see my reaction, am I supposed to smile and say it's all good? Or do I check these white boys and say it's inappropriate to use the word?
Am I supposed to pretend there is no sting in hearing that word uttered? Do I give these white guys a handbook explaining when it's OK and not OK to use the word? If you're a white boy dressed in baggy pants and wearing a FUBU shirt purchased from Mr. Rags, then can you use the word? But if you're a white guy dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit and tie, you can't? Is that how it breaks down? What if they tell me Puffy or some local rap cat granted them a pass, so now it's all good?
Other ethnic artists don't go around using disparaging words to describe themselves. Many aren't issuing passes when folks outside their community use such words. Nor are they "changing the meaning" of hurtful words. And while many groups have disparaging words they use to each other, they don't go around putting them in the hooks of songs and displaying them for public consumption.
The next time some racist cop spews out the N word, will any of us be wrong to say he was being abusive or racially insensitive when Ja Rule or Puffy uses the same word and says it's OK? Mark my words, the N word is gonna be used in the wrong context, by the wrong person, and all hell is gonna break lose.
My man Rico, a Puerto Rican rapper from the group Prophets of Rage, explained it best. He noted that by suddenly changing the meaning of the N word, we are implying that racism and racial problems no longer exist, when in fact things are just as bad -- if not worse -- in many facets of our day-to-day lives. The so-called benign use of the N word in a society where racism is alive and well can be explosive in the wrong situation. Since we know this, why use the N word? Think about it.
In the meantime, to all you gooks, fobs, chinks, spics, wetbacks, blue-eyed devil honkies, fags, dykes, kikes and bitches reading this article, peace out, and have a wonderful day! Oh yeah, and don't trip -- I changed the meaning of these words.
So when I call you kike, bitch, spic or ho, keep in mind it's the hiphop, street versions of these words.
This article originally appeared on both PopandPolitics.com and DaveyD.com