Music

Jay-Z, Kanye West and the Dilemma of Being a Worldwide ‘Ni—a’

Wed., Jun. 6, 2012 10:50 AM EDT
by A.R. Shaw

 

Beyoncé, Jay-Z and Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow continues to catch flack regarding a recent tweet that referenced Jay-Z and Kanye West’s song “N—s In Paris.” While backstage at the Watch The Throne tour in Paris, Paltrow was thought to have tweeted “N—s in Paris for real.”

While dozens of Twitter users lashed out at her for the use of the word, Russell Simmons and The-Dream defended her.

In a blog, Simmons stated “I have to throw my hand up and stand up for Gwyneth. I know her intentions were not to be offensive … she was just proud of her friend, Jay-Z. My words are in defense of her.”

And in an attempt to do damage control, The-Dream tweeted that he was the one who tweeted from Paltrow’s account. Nice try, but I don’t buy that The-Dream is Paltrow’s designated tweeter.

Of course, Paltrow meant no harm from a racial standpoint. However, the issue is bigger than a white woman who should know better than to use a racial epithet, even during a celebratory moment.

I understand the reason Jay-Z and Kanye West named the song “N—s in Paris.” It’s the notion of rising from poverty, in a nation that considers you a ni–a, and getting to a financial level that allows you to party in a place more glamorous than Las Vegas, New York or Miami.

It’s similar to saying, ” We were poor, we are black and were looked at as ni–as for most of our lives. But look where we are now. We are wealthy. We have made it.”

However, the reality can’t be hidden in a four-minute song. The word still hurts and stings because we remember our past and are facing a disturbing present. In terms of racial progress, we haven’t gotten to a point where it’s cool for white people to think that they can use the N-word indiscriminately, even if it’s in a friendly manner.

Ask the parents of Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, and more recently, Darius Simmons, if they believed their sons were looked at as or even called “ni–a” before they were murdered by white men.

Ask the 13.6 percent of black Americans who are currently unemployed if their potential employer won’t hire them because they are seen as “ni–as.”

And even the blacks who have progressed to the point where they can afford a trip overseas, do foreigners view them as “ni–as” because Jay-Z and Kanye West said it was OK to?

This is not a moment to bash Jay-Z or Kanye West, who have always made great music.

This is a critique of two intelligent black men, and much of hip-hop in general, who made a mistake and sold out their community by  broadcasting the word “ni–a” as if racism toward blacks has been eliminated. Gwyneth believes it’s cool to say it because this must be how they — blacks in general — think of themselves. Imagine if Jay-Z and Kanye West were Jewish or Asian. Would a tweet like that even be considered?

But hey, somebody black is partying in Paris. So I guess we’ve all made it. Right? –amir shaw

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  • Baberella

    I wish I could patent the word. It is definitely currency right now. Every time Gwyneth and the Parisians at the concert uttered the N-word, I would net a profit. Boy, would I be as rich as Jay-Z and Kanye West who are also tossing the word around the globe like it’s sweet as candy, but it isn’t and we can’t be mad if others do the same. THE END! 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZUQLNU3BYJD3QI2HXGDHJKCJBY Kielboss

      You would be the richest person on the planet.

  • http://www.zoboprepublic.wordpress.com/ zobop republic

    As long as Black people keep teaching the world, EACH ONE-TEACH ONE, how to use the N-Word, white people will use it!

  • TrayvonnasaurusRex

    Nigger is as nigger does

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZUQLNU3BYJD3QI2HXGDHJKCJBY Kielboss

    Black people almost had whte people ceasing to use the word, until they (blacks) brought it back, and now use it everyday. The “N” word is the most popular word amongst kids, and it’s my favorite word. I use it 100-200 times a day. But I use it in the vain that it was meant for, you feel me? This is your fault blacks, and don’t complain when I scream it from the mountain tops. It’s your fault.