Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Wish for 2012: "Niggas" Go Home

On Kanye West and Jay-Z's 2011 release Watch the Throne there's a track called "Niggas in Paris." I can't think of that title without reflexively changing the n-word to it's original spelling and calling it "Niggers in Paris," a title more suited to a black-and-white 1920s vaudeville film short, featuring white guys in blackface dancing around with watermelon and fried chicken.

In 2012, it's time for rappers, especially rich successful ones, to put down the "nigger/'nigga'" noun when writing their rhymes. At one point in time the word had a kind of cultural value to rap and hip-hop (Straight Outta Compton by NWA, or Niggers with Attitude, is the best example of this). Today, at a time when black people have achieved so much in a country where they are still hated by a lot of other people, the word has lost its usefulness to shock or declare solidarity. It's also about as fresh as calling somebody "homeboy."

Rappers of course, should use whatever tools of self-expression they think they need to make their point. Still, there's something wrong about how, in the second decade of the 21st century, while non-black people may call me a nigger behind my back, the people most likely to call me one to my face is another black person. Brothers and Sisters, it's time to move on.

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