Last week, Piers Morgan wrote an article that brought in fury. He opined that some Caucasian females, members of the Alpha Phi Sorority at University of New Hampshire, should not receive criticism or anger for visibly singing the n-word in a viral video.
Last Tuesday, a Facebook post went out from the “All Eyes on UNH” Facebook page showing some young ladies singing and dancing to a popular Kanye West rap song from 2005 called “Gold Digger.” The n-word is repeated a number of times within the song’s lyrics. In its “About” section, the page says “Our intent is to expose injustices at UNH,” and the post seemed aimed to generate controversy by suggesting white girls are racist for repeating the n-word from song lyrics.
These kind of critics don’t target the actual song’s lyrics, but “white girls” repeating them and a “white man” talking about it. The same reasons triggered many in the social media stratosphere.
Now, Morgan is known for clashing with everyone. He may be the Simon Cowell of television journalism: he brings a lot of attention to his brand, but can be known for not being friendly and is very critical of things he does not like. Nevertheless, Morgan made some valid points in his Daily Mail article. But since the n-word is always a touchy subject and he’s Caucasian, he was already wrong before he even started typing the words.
Entertainment Aimed at Everyone Uses This Word
People can respond to his article however they like, but at least they should act like they actually read what he wrote. For example, legendary hip-hop artist Talib Kweli posted: “Why is @piersmorgan obsessed with telling ppl who is allowed to say nigga and who isn’t? I wrote abt his nigga obsession 2 years ago.”
Kweli appears to have missed that Morgan does not seem to desire to tell people who is allowed to say the n-word. Instead Morgan wonders if it is as big a deal as some make it out to be and if it is actually racist to say it in a certain form (“n—a” as opposed to the despised “n—-r”). Morgan wrote: “And is the word ‘nigga’ racist anyway? Oh, I know the word ‘n****r’ from which it is derived is racist. We all know that. That’s why I won’t even spell it out.”
The question is valid. Many of us still ponder it, whether we will admit it or not. The word has been used heavily in rap songs since the 1980s, and many rap fans are Caucasian people. Even if one is a Caucasian person who listens to these particular songs and never says the word, should such people really support an artist who makes music they cannot repeat in front of others? One could imagine that many people enjoy these songs and say all the lyrics loudly. So, how many people actually stop themselves from saying a specific word (whether aloud or in their minds) when listening to a song for entertainment?
Lots of People of All Races Disagree About This Word
Morgan makes another valid point: “But even among black people there is disagreement as to whether the word ‘nigga’ is actually a racist or offensive term at all.” This is quite true! I’m an African-American and do not care for either word. This was not the case in my youth. My parents would ask me why I said it when I was younger, and I would usually tell them that I got it from certain family members who used it quite often. Sometimes, the n-word was considered a “term of endearment,” and other times it was used in a vulgar fashion.
Plus, I was a fan of rap music as a child and my favorite artists used it profusely. I am not alone in these kinds of experiences. Besides such anecdotes, we can look to our culture and the Facebook post to see that there is no real consensus on the issue.
This is a sensitive topic that we all should handle with care, but people should think about Morgan’s statements before they think of him as a racist. However, when discussing where people should lay the blame on the young ladies using the n-word, he was wrong when he wrote: “If you want someone to blame, then blame Kanye West.” Although West has some level of responsibility for his actions, he is also a product of the culture.
The blame can be really laid at the feet of many people (particularly rap artists) who came long before West: people who invented the word to harm others and deem them inferior and those who desired to “reclaim” the n-word as their own.