News & Politics

If I'm a Nigga Is J-Lo a Spic?

People are still smoldering over J-Lo's and her new song "I'm Real," in which she uses the N word. What are the consequences when such an offensive word is all but commonplace?
People are still smoldering over the controversy surrounding J-Lo and her new song "I'm Real" which features her and 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 where such an offensive word is all but commonplace.

New York's Hot 97's Morning Show team Star and Buckwyld took offense to her usage and began blasting her for it. The other week while in the Big Apple, I heard the duo referring to J-Lo as a Spic Bitch. They noted that if a pop star like J-Lo can use the N word then they, as African Americans, wanted to bring back the S word.

There are many that argued Star and Buckwyld had crossed the line and were inconsistent with their reasoning. Why call J-Lo a Spic and not fellow DJ Angie Martinez, who uses the word profusely on her album "Up Close and Personal?" Why not blast Puerto Rican rap acts like Fat Joe and his Terror Squad for using the N word? Or Cypress Hill, another Latin group that uses the word profusely?

Although Star wasn't directly asked these question, in an interview with the NY Daily News, he noted that J-Lo was a pop star who was using the N word as a way to regain her ghetto pass. He felt she would be sending out the wrong message, considering her high profile status within the mainstream. Others are accusing Star and Buckwlyd of attacking J-Lo as a cheap way to get publicity. One thing is for sure -- J-Lo has sold more albums then most rap artists combined. Her words will reach many.

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 an Asian artist like Q-Bert or DJ Honda use the N word can I call him "chink" or "gook"? 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?

On the other hand, there are dope dealers who think its OK to sell crack. There are men who think it's perfectly OK to degrade women and smack them when they get out of line. There are folks who feel the best way to resolve a problem is through violence. Does the fact that they do it -- and can eloquently justify their actions -- make them right? Should we pick up on those habits?

So if Puffy decides he likes calling himself and the people around him 'Nigga', does that suddenly make it OK? Says who? Isn't ironic that an artist like Puffy or Ja Rule can go to white-owned mediums like Hot 97 or MTV and use the N word without any sort of penalty, but if they go on those same mediums and call someone a kike, fag or chink they would come under fire. It's amazing how these white-owned mediums will listen to ignorant Black artists who say the N word is cool, the meaning has changed and its now a part of street culture, but won't listen to the larger Black community when they demand equal access and more uplifting programing and more positive image presentation.

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 Jose 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 a boss, co-worker or classmate 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."

I'm standing on line in a store and hear two non-Hip Hop 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 its 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 its 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 Brother 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 to 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 because Ja Rule or Puffy uses the same word and said it was 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 change 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 in 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 Hip Hop street versions of these words.

This article originally appeared on both PopandPolitics.com and DaveyD.com.
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