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Black Mainstream Artist Should Avoid Using the N-Word

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I use the word ‘Negro’ and ‘Niggah.’  I don’t use it daily, but I would be lying if I said that I do not use the word. I acknowledge the history, and I do not use it in malice. I may say it negatively when talking about a situation. It is synonymous with ignorant, outlandish, and disrespectful behavior if I use it negatively.  If I use it positively, then I am doing it as a ‘code switch’. I would not call my students this is good or bad connotation because it is not appropriate, but this is in conversation with my family and personal relationships.

Do I have to use the word, no. Yet, I refuse to have this conversation about the use of this word amongst mixed company.  I will not have a discussion with a non-Black person on if I should use the word. It is clear that non-Blacks cannot use the word under any circumstances. So why are these people in the room? Why should they have a voice to what Blacks can and cannot say?  For hundreds of years, Whites had control over what Blacks could say and do, and that time is now over. Don’t worry about what I say unless you are Black like me.

You cannot use it throughout your music that is now bought and sold amongst the mainstream crowd only to say they cannot sing the word. Click To Tweet

Credit: Broderick Greer

With that said, Kendrick Lamar and other rappers need to evaluate themselves and their music with the flippant use of ‘Niggah.’  You cannot use it throughout your music that is now bought and sold amongst the mainstream crowd only to say they cannot sing the word ‘Niggah.’  One can say that they should know better. Fine. But, shouldn’t you also know better?

When Jay Z fathered Blue Ivy, then he stopped utilizing the word ‘Bitch.’  Is there a time that these artists need to evolve and minimize the word ‘Niggah’?  With songs that have 22 uses of the word ‘Niggah’ in the song, then every other word is a word that someone non-Black could not say.  Is this fair when we all know that these artists have a large non-Black crowd who is buying all of their music? In fact, when you go to the concert, it is predominately White. If you want to keep making music for only Black people to buy, then keep using the word ‘Niggah.’ But, these artists want more money (which is fine), so remove the word if you don’t want Whites to use the word.  If an artist does not care about who uses the word, then own it and keep doing what you have been doing.

Let’s be frank, what responsibility would these artists have in their art when they are trying to sell records?  If they don’t want White people to call them ‘Niggah’ at all, then do not sing a song with a crowd full of White people that have 22 uses of the word ‘Niggah.’ Telling a young White girl to sensor herself is very hypocritical. How about these artists find all of the many ways to express themselves?

We have many words in a dictionary.  These artists should use them.

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For The Culture

Dear Steve Harvey

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For The Culture

21 Savage to be Released from ICE Custody on Bond

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Rolling Stone

Thanks to pressure applied by grassroots community organizers and lawyers connected to the #Free21Savage movement, the rapper has been released on bond.

Following news that ShaYaa Bin Abraham-Joseph was detained by ICE and subjected to 23 hour solitary confinement, leaders and legal experts partnered to petition for his freedom. With 450,000 signed petitions collected from sympathizers, the team of allies braved the cold to deliver them to ICE Field Director Sean Gallagher. Refusing to allow the petitions to be placed inside, organizers and involved protesters stood beyond the gates chanting for justice in the pouring rain. Their hard work bore fruit for 21 Savage, but their fight is just beginning. Determined to take things further and abolish ICE, community organizers want equal justice for those without celebrity status.

He Will Not Forget

Lawyers representing 21 Savage released a statement following the announcement that the rapper had won his freedom. Stating that the artist wanted to send a “special message to his fans and supporters”, Charles H. Kuck, Dina LaPolt, and Alex Spiro expressed the following:

“While he wasn’t present at the Grammy Awards, he was there in spirit and is grateful for the support from around the world and is more than ever, ready to be with his loved ones and continue making music that brings people together.

He will not forget this ordeal or any of the other fathers, sons, family members, and faceless people, he was locked up with or that remain unjustly incarcerated across the country. And he asks for your hearts and minds to be with them.”

This is our fight

It is incredibly important that while celebrating 21 Savage’s release we continue to credit the individuals who do this work consistently and remember the faceless who are still in detention. Georgia is among the top five states that detains the most immigrants. Sharing the unfortunate statistic with Texas, California, Arizona, and Louisiana, Georgia holds 3,717 immigrant detainees.

While the U.S. government does not maintain reliable immigrant detainee demographic information, data collected by Freedom For Immigrants shows most victims of this system are between the ages of 26 and 35. The average length of detention could be as little as six months or extend past four years. Locked in private prisons or city/county jails, nutrition issues, medical neglect, solitary confinement, and sexual abuse are among the list of documented abuses that immigrants endure. With the largest immigration detention system in the world, ICE contributes to this profit-driven system.

It is my personal hope that the eye-opening experience of 21 Savage has made the abolition of ICE a necessity for Black Americans who had previously sidelined the ordeal.

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Catch Up! We Are Celebrating Women, Not Hating Them

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It is past time for female artists to have the same, or better recognition from awards organizations. But their acclaim should not come at the expense of another person’s pride.

In a previous article, I discussed the lack of solidarity in rap regarding the continuing fight for women who have yet to receive their seat at the table. Despite being equally, or better talented than their male counterparts, women who rap are consistently pitted against one another in a show of misogyny. Feeding into this beast, BET recently tweeted and deleted a post that they believed was shady enough to be well received. Instead, it serves as a stark reminder that for women, there is still a long way to go.

Learn from this.

It’s hard to believe that just six days ago, that inspirational clip of LaLa Milan went viral. Speaking at a panel for Power Star Live, the emerging comedienne said the following:

“Unfortunately, in our culture we automatically put each other against each other when we’re in the same industry. It’s horrible. You see it every day on social media — ‘Who wore it best?’ ‘Oh, she’s funnier.’ All that stuff like that, but, it’s like…What people don’t realize is when we can all come together as a collective, you automatically have magic.”

Well said! So, how did we go from understanding there is room for everyone to eat, back to the pits of starvation? In a word, misogyny.

Last night, Cardi B celebrated a career milestone only eight other women of rap share. She won a Grammy. Taking home the award for Best Rap Album, Cardi has cemented her place among the genre’s elites by becoming the first woman to win the award solo. Instead of merely congratulating Cardi on her monumental achievement, BET saw it as an opportunity to belittle Nicki Minaj, who has yet to receive the honor. As a network that hosts their own awards show for Hip Hop, you would think BET could do better than perpetuate a negative standard that plagues 37% of rap lyrics and effects every female artist in the game.

When it comes to what is considered an acceptable standard for women performers in any genre of music, one must admit the bar is set unrealistically high. The level of imagination and creativity that is expected from a female artist is beyond what is expected of men. Indeed, after seeing Travis Scott’s Super Bowl “performance”, you could say male artists are allowed a certain celebration of mediocrity. Still, they are more heavily awarded and more easily accepted in the genre that now stands on a foundation of misogyny/misogynoir.

Let It Go.

The longstanding tradition of pitting female artists against one another for drama or ‘catfights’ is dated and should have been put to rest long ago. Women who have made it to that tier of status within the entertainment industry have made it clear that they are queens in their own right. Their successess and shortcomings need not be weighed against one another unless it is for comparison within their own career. And to attach Nicki Minaj to Cardi’s win as an insult was unnecessarily tacky.

In the words of LaLa Milan, “If you’re as hungry as me and you stop trying to starve those around you, we can all eat.” There is room for everyone.

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