I am discussing this very sensitive topic and hopefully by the end of this article you will have a broader understanding of the word and why I recently spoke about it so passionately in the media. The press wrote about it and called me the "fiesty singer". It was not my intention to be feisty. I just speak up for what is right. I challenged a very famous personality about why she used the word on national television.
Katie Price was recently on a very popular show here in the UK called This Morning. While telling a very sad story about her son being bulled she used the N-word. TWICE. She explained that cyber bullies called her brown son this name and she has started a petition to stop the bullying online. I would like to say that I am very sorry for her and her son and I do support her petition which I have attached to this article. A few of my personal friends defended Katie as they could not understand why I spoke out against her. After all, she was just "telling her story". She did not call anyone this name or use it to degrade anyone. Well, I disagree. I don't think she had a right at all to use this word. She could have easily said the "N-word." And all the listeners would have known what she meant.
I am not here speaking for all black people. This is my personal opinion and life experience. I am also the mom of an African American boy who was called the N-word at the age of six years old by his classmate. Where did such a young child learn this word? Probably from his white parents who also should understand the significance of the problem that they perpetuate.
If you are not a black person and you use the N-word chances are you are going to face some sort of backlash. Some people don't think it is a racial slur because they think it means stupid or ignorant which it does. But it is absolutely incorrect to believe that the word is NOT a racial slur. The N-word comes from the Spanish and Portugese word for black - Negro.
So how do you take a completely benign word for black and make it into a slur? Let's take a look at the word's historical context. The N-word was used to describe black people as they were being stolen from Africa, put into slavery, chained, lynched, raped, beaten and spit upon. So the word was created as a tool of oppression. Its historical context cannot be erased.
Who is allowed to say it?
In reality everyone is allowed to say whatever it is they want to say but there will always be consequences depending on who you are and where you are. There will be different consequences for what you say. Two years ago Madonna posted a pic of her son on Instagram and called him the N-word. She received immediate backlash and took the post down.
She then wrote:
"I am sorry if I offended anyone with my use of the N-word on Instagram. It was not meant as a racial slur. I am not a racist. There's no way to defend the use of the word. It was all about intention," she said. "It was used as a term of endearment toward my son who is white. I appreciate that it's a provocative word and I apologize if it gave people the wrong impression."
There is always backlash when a white person uses this word. You may be wondering why? Well, then I would say its a matter of in-group versus out-group dynamics.
When you are a member of a certain group there are things that are totally okay and socially acceptable. And when you are outside of that group you may get a little look like "Hey that is not ok!". For example for some reason football players pat each other on the butt as a way to say good job. Its totally ok but imagine a player off the field. As a stranger walks up to him and pats him on the butt. That player may say, "Hey!! What are you doing? Who are you?! This is weird".
The other idea is that American rap artists have used this word in their music so the rest of the world starts to think its ok. Some people think well if black people don't want others to use it then they shouldn't use it. I happen to agree. But some artists have felt the using the N-word in their music it was a way to reclaim it as an act of defiance. With the idea that you have used this horrible word to oppress me and keep me down so I'm going to turn it around and change its meaning into something else. Basically the word was taken out of the hands of the people who were using it to hurt us and we use it the way we want to use it.
My argument with Katie Price was she has a huge platform and the ability to teach people to not use such an awful word that has is associated with horrible suppression against a race. Does she care about any of the disparities that black people still face in America and around the world? Her issue which is bullying was suddenly overlooked as she dropped this word in her conversation and caused a big media frenzy.
I want us all to stop using the word and focus on the real issues like job discrimination, housing discrimination, racial profiling, police brutality and lastly Katie's cause which is bullying.
My effort here is to have everyone really understand what the word means. The derivation of the word. The pain it has caused and hopefully we can bury it for good.
I want to also take a moment to say to you, Katie from one mom to another I know its not easy to protect our children from the evils of the world but perhaps with our platforms we can make a change for the better. I respect the work you are doing and the goals you are trying to achieve with online bullying and I am willing to help in any way that I can.
I am hoping that my explanation above can help educate others and give awareness so that we can be more sensitive about the words we use.
Please take a moment to sign Katie's petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/190627