Personally, I am usually on guard when in the presence of "Liberals" lest they accuse me of not obeying
some one of their new made-up rules of behavior that is supposed to "make things better" but is based on
anti-male and anti-white bias.
An example of the current racial "wars" is American Rap in which blacks or African-Americans get to say
all kinds of nasty words including the "N-word" which if spoken by a white person would cause them to be
condemned. Gweneth Paltro tweeted about the award winning rap song "N---er in Paris" when her only
offense was citing the title of a song that won an award and was sung by someone who is "black".
During a moment of performed interactivity, a black rapper, on a stage, had commanded an
audience including many nonblack fans to repeat a quasi-affectionate corruption (nigga) of a hateful
word (nigger), that nonblack people are not supposed to use, much less holler with glee. How did all
these twists and turns add up? Were the white fans who yelled “nigga” really speaking the word?
Maybe Wayne was speaking through them, like a ventriloquist. Or maybe they were quoting Wayne’s
usage, reading aloud from his script from within the borders of a linguistic neutral zone he’d created
for them. Or maybe they should have just kept their mouths shut.
I was reminded of that concert last week when a message was published on Gwyneth Paltrow’s
Twitter account that included the word “ni**a” (asterisks hers), prompting a small controversy.
Paltrow, who is friends with Jay-Z, had attended a concert in Paris given by Jay-Z and Kanye West.
The MCs have taken to playing their hit song “Niggas in Paris” over and over to close out their
concerts, and in Paris they did it 11 times straight. The part of the Paltrow tweet that scandalized
people read: “Ni**as in paris for real.” An attached photograph showed Paltrow on stage at the show
with three men, indicated by the rest of the tweet to be R&B singer The-Dream and two Jay-Z
affiliates, Ty Ty and Bee-High. After people objected to Paltrow’s wording, she tweeted a protest: “Hold
up. It’s the title of the song!” (In a subsequent, and not entirely convincing, development, The-Dream
took responsibility for the offending tweet, claiming to have sent it himself from Paltrow’s phone
Lawyers for the prosecution, making the case that Paltrow was in the wrong, might point out that the
title of the song is actually “Niggas in Paris,” and that, by removing the title from quotation marks
and making it a phrase in a sentence, Paltrow had used the word nigga, not merely mentioned it, as
her follow-up tweet claimed. In this reading, Paltrow effectively identified the black men pictured
with her, along with Jay-Z and Kanye West (and maybe even herself?) as “niggas,” then suggested
that this was justified because Jay and Kanye had used the word first. Nigga, ubiquitous in hip-hop,
is a relatively softer and bendier word than nigger, but it is precisely this softness that is alarming,
because white people risk mistaking the nonhurtful meaning it can carry deployed as an address
between black speakers for a license to use it themselves.
When Katy Perry covered “Niggas in Paris” during a BBC television performance in March, she
replaced the word nigga, which appears several times in the verses, with ninja. When I saw a video of
Perry’s cover, I wondered what it would have meant if she had covered the song without this
modification. It certainly would have been imprudent from a public-relations standpoint, and it may
have run her afoul of broadcasting regulations. But would it have been, in a greater sense, wrong?