Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New York Bans the N-Word

(From Reuters) " The City Council unanimously declared a moratorium that carries no penalty but aims to stop youth from casually using the word, considered by most Americans to be the most offensive in the English language.

The New York City measure follows similar resolutions this month by the New York state assembly and state senate, and supporters of the ban are taking their campaign to The Recording Academy, asking it not to nominate musicians for Grammy awards if they use the word in their lyrics.

Councilman Leroy Comrie, a sponsor of the moratorium, said the campaign against the word has gained strength since comedian Michael Richards spewed it in a racially charged tirade in Los Angeles."

Some thoughts...

#1. Did they ban "nigger" or "nigga?" Because there is a difference. Also, if one says the word in reference to someone else saying the word, is that still outlawed?

#2. There is also a big difference between it being used by black people and it being used by white people. A big difference. Michael Richards saying "nigger" at the Comedy Club is bad news. Damon Wayans saying it is another story.

#3. People aren't racist because they use racist language. Racist langauge can help, uh, enable their racism, but outlawing a word won't kill the sentiment. People can be just as prejudice and stupid using "African-american" as they can using "colored" or whatever else. Focus less on the language, and more on the feelings surrounding the language.

#4. The idea of the grammy's rejecting people because they use nigga is totally stupid and I hope they don't do it. Does that mean when it is exposing the word, as in Mos Def's "Mr. Nigga?" or when it is flipping the phrase on its head as in Madlib's "Pyramids (Change)"? Or when it is used to be synonymous with"friend" as in too many hip hop songs to name? Or is it only when it is used by a white person to address a black person? And would it still be ok for them to degrade women and gays?

#5. Is nigger the worst word in the English language? Paradoxically, it is much, much more taboo for people to use Nigger today than 100 years ago, when it was a fairly common term for a black person. Blacks took to using nigger to take the sting out of it. They reclaimed the term as their own, and ironically, took it away from the racists.

I applaud the idea of trying to tackle some of the negativity and nihilism that is all too prominent in many aspects of hip-hop. However, this is a misguided, wrongheaded way of doing it. Plus, the hip-hop community is not gonna give a FUCK. In fact, I guarantee GUARANTEE that the word nigger will be used by MCs to obscene extents in the coming weeks and months.

That said, I think after this post I am going to try to not actually spell out the n word when quoting lyrics. I figure, if it aint right for me to say it out loud, I probably shouldn't be typing it.


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