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When The N-Word Comes Home to Roost

A Dutch fashion mag's racist slur against singer Rihanna shows that racism is still one of America's biggest exports

Singer Rihanna versus Dutch publication, Jackie magazine

It all started when Jackie, a small (at least by American standards, with about 60,000 readers) Dutch fashion magazine decided to refer to Bajan singer Rihanna as a “niggabitch” in the headline of an article aimed at instructing young Dutch women on how to dress like her. The reference lit a fuse that, thanks to the magic and reach of social media, ignited a firestorm of outrage during the past week, eventually setting off the powder keg of Rihanna herself, whose angry response via Twitter concluded with an F-bomb dropped directly on the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Eva Hoeke. After initially releasing a weak non-apology—swearing no racist or malicious intent on the part of she and the writer of the article, describing it as a “joke” and asserting that the offending term is an acceptable use of American slang—Hoeke was forced to resign, ending her eight-year tenure at Jackie. Which is totally fine by me, and most sensible people in Holland, America and most of the world.

I’m only bothering to make note of this to make two points: One, the reason Hoeke deserved to lose her job is not racism, whether conscious or latent, but incompetence. Two, Jackie‘s use of a racist slur against Rihanna, a globally popular singer and performer, is just the latest evidence of the fact that racism remains one of America’s biggest exports—if only because, like an infestation of insects in a shipment of fruit, it’s part of what you get when you import American pop culture, which remains in high demand in Holland and around the world.

If Hoeke and her editorial team had just checked, using basic journalism fundamentals, she would have found that in no way would public use of the term “niggabitch” be received as a joke by Rihanna or any other Black person (or most people of any race). Nor would they have found evidence (outside of the music lyrics they apparently used for their “research” of Black American culture) that the term is acceptable slang that is widely used in a non-derogatory manner. This kind of sloppy journalism is not limited to Dutch fashion magazines. There are countless examples, though relatively few as inflammatory as Jackie‘s, of White-run media outlets lowering journalistic standards when it comes to reporting on Black people and culture. Even in 2011, too often, attempts at gaining an accurate understanding of Black people, communities and culture stops at a White editor or writer asking the one or two Black acquaintances they may have—or worse, going by images and stereotypes promoted as factual by popular culture, including in articles published by other White-run media outlets with only a passing familiarity with Black people and culture. For a recent example, you only have to go back to last week’s outrage in response to Forbes Contributor Gene Marks’ “If I Were A Poor Black Child.”

My second point is one that most purveyors of American popular culture, which in many parts of the world is nearly synonymous with Black American culture, are fully aware of but rarely interested in addressing or being held accountable for: Many if not most people in countries outside of the United States form their perception of Black Americans based on what they see and hear in music, videos and other expressions of popular culture, which has been defined primarily by hip-hop and urban culture for the better part of three decades. Don’t believe it? Ask the African Americans who are confronted with these expectations when they travel abroad. Then know all about Russians who think nothing of calling a Black tourist “nigga” because they’ve learned that’s what Black Americans call each other; the inebriated Greek dude who doesn’t understand why it’s not okay to grab the rear end of a Black woman he doesn’t know—or the Dutch fashion magazine editor who thinks it cool and funny to describe the fashion choices of a popular, young Black female singer as “niggabitch”—although Rihanna’s wardrobe is no more risque than that of Lady Gaga‘s or, for that matter, Madonna‘s at the peak of her popularity as an international recording star and performer.

The editor-in-chief of Jackie got exactly what she deserved for her gross lapse in editorial judgement. (Never mind that, to my knowledge, she never really apologized to Rihanna.) But what about the Black artists who routinely use the terms “nigga” and “bitch” (okay, not usually combined, though unfortunately, that may change) in not just their art, but in their day-to-day conversation via both traditional and social media, the primary means of the worldwide circulation of all culture?

As a journalist, I abhor censorship. And as a lover of the creative arts (and the father of a rap artist whose lyrics aren’t always for the faint of heart), I believe in the freedom of artistic expression. And I must note that, from what I could gather from responses on blogs and in social media to Jackie‘s racist slur against Rihanna, the overwhelming majority of Dutch people thought that the magazine’s use of the term was both obviously offensive and inexcusable. In fact, most Black travelers report that overtly racist behavior against Black Americans is the exception, not the rule, in most of the countries they visit. All I’m saying is that as African Americans, and particularly as artists, performers and media influencers, we need to be more conscious of the images and values we are using to define and represent our culture and people—and our women in particular, in the case of Rihanna. Otherwise, it may be increasingly difficult for our outrage to be taken as anything other than hypocritical when the N-word comes home to roost in the future.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Dwayne Hirsch

    Great blog. The fact that we continue to use the N-word, defend the use of it, and then expect others even in other countries to not use it is ridiculous. We are at the point where we either have to stop using it or accept the usage of it by other people.

    I once worked at a place where there were mostly black men working. We called each other Ni**as ALL DAY long. So when one of the managers, who was very cool and everyone knew was not a racist, said “What’s up my Ni**a!!”, how could I react harshly? So I said to him “you know thats not for you to say”, he said,”You guys use it like it’s a term of endearment and I just want to be one of the guys.” At that point in my life, I was stumped for a response that would have not indicated hypocrisy. I reminded him that it was not for him to use, but I wasn’t angry and ready to sue him for it, etc.

    People respect people who respect themselves.

  • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

    “People respect people who respect themselves.”

    Wow, Dwayne. ‘Nuff said. Thanks for commenting!

  • Chris Develing

    A half- well done blog.

    Let me comment on the parts I disagree with.

    Appearantly the writer states that when blacks use words freely its art. When white fans then repeat those arty words, it becomes gross. Double standard.

    I do like the self-knowledge but what I am sadly missing in this article is the fact that Rihanna herself has used the N-word in her music. For example listen to the song called G4L. So now we have a black woman, using the N word as a catchphrase, who gets angry when a white woman does exactly the same.

    Now, I’m pretty sure that Rihanna googled Eva Hoeke* before typing in her rant on Twitter. I wonder what Rihanna would have done if Eva Hoeke turned out to be a an Afro-dutch/european woman. Probably nothing. Which would indicate that Rihanna bases her judgement on the color of someone’s skin. I believe people like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Cosby have proven that when you address usage of the N-word, it might come in handy to not use it yourself.

    So to make a long story short, the author did a half good job, stating that “may be increasingly difficult for our outrage to be taken as anything other than hypocritical when the N-word comes home to roost in the future.” But fails to leave out the ‘may’ part. Because Rihanna herself promoted the word all over Europe with through her music.

    Lastly, let me state for the record that the N-word has not only travelled to Europe through afro-american music. Do not forget the hundreds of movies and stand up comedians that have flooded our ears (unasked) with the N-word.

    My point being: If Opray Winfrey says “dont say the N-word” I agree 100%. If Rihanna says it… I get mad.

    *note to author: do more research so you’ll know how the names of your subjects are spelled. Eva Hoeke is not a difficult alien name. Show some respect if you’re going to mention someone in the context of you agreeing the fact that she lost her job of 9 years)

  • Chris Develing

    My last sentence meaning: I dont look at someone’s color before I respond. I look at someone’s credibility.

    And let me point out that the issue needs addressing, but that its a pity that Rihanna, of all people, has stepped into the debate. I can’t think of a worse spokesperson for black women.

  • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

    Chris;

    Thanks for calling out my misspelling of Eva Hoeke’s name; it is now correct. Trust me, the error was not for lack of research; it was a typo, plain and simple, though no less inexcusable. Also, thank you for taking the time to comment on my post.

    In no way am I saying, “apparently” or otherwise, that black music artists have the right to use the N-word/B-word to the exclusion of their white fans. While I do believe that context (including the race and intent of the user and of the person or people being so labeled) matters, I don’t believe that any race or ethnic group can claim exclusive ownership of any word.

    Thus, as I said in my post, I do not state that Eva Hoeke deserved to be fired because of the use (really, misuse) of the word out of racist intent, because I don’t know that to be so. It became a fireable offense once Eva issued her explanation behind WHY she allowed the word to be used, which was a combination of “it got past me before publication” and a series of excuses that clearly revealed that neither she nor her writer had thoroughly researched or considered how the word would be received–both gross derelictions of her duties as chief editor. After all, it wasn’t some minor reference in the small-print text; it was the headline of the piece (24 pt. type at least), the central focus of the page.

    Is Rihanna the right person to protest the use of the N-word? In this case, given that there is a big difference between using the term “niggabitch” and being called one, I say yes. She wasn’t reacting to the word being printed in the magazine; she was reacting to the term being applied specifically to her. Plus, she was labeled the “ultimate niggabitch”, which implies that other young black women like Rihanna are also niggabitches, though perhaps less accomplished at it. That Hoeke’s writer believed that the term would be taken as a joke is either further evidence of incompetence and ignorance or an outright lie.

    Merely using the N-word in casual conversation or in song lyrics may or not be objectionable, depending on your point of view. (I happen to strongly object to the former, but have far less of a problem with the latter. My adult son, the rap artist, does not use such language in my home or around his parents and other older adults, but does use them both in conversation with his peers and in his lyrics.) But being called one is absolutely an insult. Outside the closest of friendships, there is no way you can call a black woman that “niggabitch”, especially publicly, and not have it perceived as an attack requiring swift and brutal retaliation.

    But that’s beside the point. While I may question Rihanna’s use of the N-word and/or the B-word in her song lyrics, she is not a journalist, and her music is not journalism. So Hoeke’s firing was not a matter of a racist double-standard, but her violation of a single standard of editorial responsibility.

  • Chris Develing

    mister Edmond,

    thanks for replying. Sorry that I was fired up a little and made misuse of that in my respons. I’m calmer now :D

    I still don’t agree though, im sorry to say.

    You are basically letting me (us) know that there are unwritten rules for use of the N-word. These rules seem to differ from house to house. In your house there is a “not between these walls” policy while in other houses, there might be a “what ever you want” policy (in American culture). You seem to shy away from judging what people do with the N-word in their own homes and music. Also you refer to the use of the word to be different when someone is called the N-word or when people use it in a friendly way.

    My problem with that notion is that you appearently expect people in the Netherlands to have excellent knowledge of these unwritten (and unspoken, mind you) laws that exist in the US. I don’t believe this is reasonable. Also I don’t see any difference between a Dutch magazine and a Rihanna album, apart from the fact that the former had under 100.000 readers, and the latter has milions and milions of listeners/buyers/downloaders. Based on that, I can’t understand why you would see usage of the debated word in music as “far less of a problem”.

    Now, when you say that race of the user of the N-word matters, but also say that one race can’t claim exclusive right to use a word, I am confused. Based on the latter you are advocating that whites should be able to say it? Because that’s the consequence of saying that one race can’t claim a word or term. Also, its controdictionary to you saying that race matters.

    As I’ve said before and in my own blog (see link below) when one race has a certain right – in this case the right to use the N-word freely – and another race does not, or has limited rights, we are basicly going back in time and making segregation laws all over again.

    We either like the word, or we hate it. Now I know we can’t ban the word. But it’s good that people are against it and are trying to make people aware. In my opinion, if you hate the word, you can’t make up rules for when it’s “okay” and when its not. For people who enjoy using the word, well I hope they become wiser some day. But in my opnion, both these opinions combined is really controdictionary.

    http://saharmoetblijven.blogspot.com/2011/12/stick-in-rihannas-eye-and-splinter-she.html

  • Raven

    As a black woman I do take offense to the term used in that magazine. I think it is tasteless and insulting. I don’t understand why people keep thinking that all black people think and act the same. In my opinion the term speaks volumes about how some people view black women in general. Do people throw around the word bitch at artists like Lady Gaga? Lady Gaga can be called provocative, unique, quirky and hump a cross. Come to think of it I remember Madonna putting out nude pics, dancing provocatively and doing all types of weird stuff. She has NEVER been disrespected the way Rhianna has been. Many people don’t understand that there is a double standard when it comes to black and white, but it is definitely in your face. Rhianna’s music and presentation of herself is no more degrading than the other white artists I see out there. Yet, the racist media wants to degrade and humiliate a sexy black woman. It is historic and points back to pure racism.

    • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      Raven; Thank you so much for weighing to share your point of view as a Black woman!

      Alfred

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    • Oliver Sudden

      Do you really expect white owned media to disrespect white stars/celebrities/pawns or whatever else they called, stop paying attentions to these coons and focus on what matters in your life because at the end of the day whether rihana (or what ever her name is)is called a niggabitch or an africanqueen she still going get paid by her record company which is probably owned by someone who’s forefathers owned slaved, and she won’t be turning that money down because of this , these people choose to be in the spotlight and when one wrong thing is said about them, it sparks a debate that doesn’t resolve anything

  • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

    Chris;

    I really dislike when you use the words “basically” and “apparently”, because they seem to signal that you’re about to presume what I am “trying to say” or “mean to say,” as opposed to hearing what I’m actually saying. I do not advocate that anyone, black, white or otherwise, use the N-word. But the fact that I object to it and choose not to use it does not mean that I don’t respect other people’s right to use it, because I believe in freedom of speech–even speech personally offensive to me. Everyone, regardless of race, has the right to use any word. And everyone, regardless of race, has the right to object to the use of any word. Moreover, everyone is absolutely free to make up their own rules for when a word is okay and when it’s not just as everyone is absolutely free to disagree with those rules. And since I distinguish between works of art and works of journalism (I happen to practice both, as a writer, poet and visual artist as well as a multimedia editor), I absolutely differentiate between Rihanna’s music and a Dutch magazine.

    In America, no one, not even Black people, has the right to use the N-word freely. Don’t assume that what is acceptable in certain genres of music, television and film is acceptable throughout black culture, or American culture in general. For example, a Black person openly using the N-word on the job will be fired by the vast majority of employers. If I walked out of my office right now and called our executive assistant a “niggabitch,” I’d be out of a job, despite the fact that we are both Black and work for a predominantly Black, Black-owned company.

    Also, in America (I can’t speak for Holland), everyone does decide what they will or will not accept in their own homes. What I would not tolerate in my home, my neighbor might absolutely celebrate in theirs. That’s not just the case for the N-word, that’s for everything from what’s appropriate to wear, to whether obscenities are acceptable language, to what faith is practiced. And you are right, I don’t judge what people decide to do in their own homes (illegal activities being an exception), just as I don’t allow people to judge what I do in mine.

    Race and culture does matter, and it should. The opposite of racism is not to ignore race or render it invisible. It is to acknowledge and respect race and culture without denigrating or treating people harmfully because of it. Especially with words such as the N-word, the B-word and other slurs, culture and context matter, because without context, there can be no comprehension of meaning and intent. This is the case for every word ever created.

    Those unwritten rules you refer to is culture, and it’s real. While I don’t expect the average person in the Netherlands to have “excellent knowledge” of American culture, (much less black American culture), it is absolutely expected of journalists to become knowledgeable, using research, expert sources and other reporting tools, prior to writing on subjects with which they are not innately familiar. The Jackie Magazine writer who wrote the Rihanna item failed to meet that standard, and Eva Hoeke, as chief editor, failed to enforce it.

    • charles consult

      Right on!

  • RongHua Ching

    Hi Alfred, I would like to copy your excellent reply here above, it accurately describes the real issue at large, as well as failure by individuals to read, hear what is been said and total absence of any cultural notion nor right behavior of conduct in writing and speech. In the Netherlands you will be fired on the spot for the same reasons as in America and incompetence among others.

    • Chris Develing

      @RongHua Ching

      You use alot of big words for someone that doesn’t really understand the keypoints of a (or any) discussion.

      Sorry that I’m not positive towards you but you made a little petty hate-page or something about me (see link below) which I don’t apreciate. If you disagree, fine. But I have not used offensive words in that article. I’ve taken free time to describe my point of view. And all I got from you on Twitter were remarks about my poor English and that I’m somehow not smart enough to have a better standpoint. You already came across kind of hateful based on that alone, but on top of that you had to devote an entire page on me and my blog, to try and make me look bad or something. I’ve done nothing to you, so please keep it professional and understand that if I write a little edgy, its all for arguments sake. But I’m never offensive. I’m not trying to make you feel rotten or something. At least I wasn’t until you started attacking me all the time.

      here’s the disgraceful link, for all to see: http://asiabroadcastconnection.tumblr.com/post/14910827087/is-this-stupidity-or-do-we-refer-this-as-hate-crime

      • Chris Develing

        Don’t forget I’m a Dutchman. And if you had any knowledge of the context of a Dutchman’s culture, you would know that I will not be shy to speak about whatever is on my mind. We’re very direct people so that’s where the edgy writing comes from. If you can’t take it, don’t debate.

        sorry about poluting your page Alfred with this kinda personal stuff.

      • RongHua Ching

        Key excerpt:
        “The editor, publisher and Blogger all share the same shortcomings by failing to understand that if you do not comprehend a language, do not posses grammar skills, or even a genuine interest in topics as cultural diversity you should wit held your opinion until fully informed. Once you make statements, printed-, multi- or social media, hiding or accusing others is not an option to avoid accountability. There is a reason why we can hire professional language translators to perform these tasks and professional journalism means performing a thorough research, reading and editing. Freedom of speech is a privilege where we can express our thoughts, feelings, hopes and wants without being abusive or censored.”

        Many Dutch bloggers who share the same feelings as commented by Raven responded instantly outraged and this is a fact proven by the fierce reactions from the Dutch readers/public in The Netherlands on the magazine social media pages, Facebook & Twitter before it went viral and received world-wide attention.

        Dutch people in general are direct, but will choose for an open dialogue and the majority will not back up your claims nor your harsh viewpoint to justify calling Rihanna names. Do not claim statements on behalf of a nation if you are not a representative, especially for those who like to adhere to common sense.

        The spotlight on the N-,B-,C-words use of profanity in general is not done, period. We all benefit by reminding ourselves constantly not to use abusive language, it impoverishes all use of spoken and written languages.

        As for artists, painters, singers & actors who make use of street-language, their performances are showing a glimpse of life and reality, hence it’s popularity. That doesn’t rectify in any way to typecast, labelling defacing that person or any person in print or verbally.

        You fail to understand that professional attitude, cultural diversity & language basics comes first closely followed by evoked emotions attached to words and actions. Your comments are veering towards a different direction and not making any contribution to the discussion.

        When a person is submerged in rage, his/her emotions are not susceptible to arguments, reasoning or just common sense that is a shame and waste of energy. In your own hostile comments you have repeatedly shown a deep seated personal rage, painfully exposing to be incapable to see others as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Fail to recognize the rights of others except your self-serving behaviour as permissible.

        In case I have made any typo errors or grammar mistakes my apologies, thanks Alfred and others for sharing your thoughts and comments.

        • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

          Ronghua Ching;

          Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment and contribution to this discussion.

          Alfred

        • Chris Develing

          you can smooth talk it all you want. All I see is someone trying to justify a double standard by placing a responsibility on one person’s head and setting free the other one.

          Your rant on how the editor should have knowledge of culture and this and that, it’s all relocating the blame. You seem to have no problem with Rihanna’s mouth and have double problems with that of the editor. In my opinion that is seting a double standard. And it does not matter one bit what color any of the two are. Cultural context, fine but where does that begin? Rihanna has a half white father and a new guinnee mother. So which shade of brown should one be before the N-word is OK? Did you make the rules? Or did Rihanna set the rules by exporting the N-word to all people willing to buy her album, regardless of race and color? Rihanna is well aware that white people all over this globe are buying her albums. If she didn’t want the N word to catch up with her, she should have kept it within her own personal circle of friends. Instead she chose to scatter it in all directions, expecting people of a certain color to censor themselves, even though she did not.

          Context the way you lay it down is double standard my dear. Read Charles’ respons and pay attention to the part about Richard Prior and his struggle with exporting the N-word. You can learn from it. I hope you’ve taken the hate page down by now. Try to keep it professional.

          As for my rants on twitter against Rihanna. I felt angry at that time and felt I needed to set her straight in a language that she would understand. I’ve heard nothing come out of her mouth that suggest’s that a calm long monologue would both interest or reach her inner soul. Maybe it was professional on my part, but I was addressing the culprit (in my opinion). I began to address you profesionally until you started to bash me, as I’ve explaned above.

          I think you will never fully understand the meaning of my standpoint. I will (as I have done several times without your acknowledgement) admit that the editor messed up. But as we do with analysing crime rates and school drop-out statistics, I would like the world to at least think about ‘what’s causing this editor to mess up’. And I have given you my thoughts on that cause many times. Try to keep an open mind.

          And mind you: the Jackie magazine would never ever (ever!) get it into their crazy head to call someone like Oprah Winfrey a n***bitch. You think about that ok?.

          • safechoice

            to me the people i like and scrpeet and have that real talent are the people who got well-known from the start without having to be half naked on live TV such as celion dion, whitney houston, mariah carey these singers got the real voice and can sing and sound incredible on live performances! i know there are a lot of well-known singers but the way they got well-known is not right and sad because they didnt ge well-known cause how talented they are, they got well-known cause of showing off their body

  • Chris Develing

    @Raven

    Raven, I really understand your feelings and agree with your ethics. But you’re missing a few things here, really.

    First of all, the magazine never intended to degrade Rihanna. In fact the term they used was meant to be a compliment. Please believe me when I tell you that the magazine meant to use the word the same way Rihanna uses it on her own records (which she does). Not that I agree with the fact the magazine called her that. I think its low and degrading too. But let’s keep in mind that there is a cause for this. And the cause is being a bad example. I assure you that the N-word would never ever have come to this editor’s mind if she had not been listening to rapmusicians, singers (like Rihanna) and stand up comedian, from the US, using the N-word as a amicable catchphrase. I know you associate the debated word with alot of negativity, as do I. But we must not forget that alot of people use it freely and without any negativity in their intention. The same goes for this editor. Was she naieve? yes. Was she caught up in trying to sound hip? yes! But did she intend to hurt anyone, including you? I really believe that that’s a no.

    To comment on what you said about Madonna and Lady Gaga. I don’t think there is a double standerd there, although I cannot speak for the US (since I don’t live there). But I do know that Madonna has been refused visa’s and entrance to venue’s where she would perform in countries all over the world. This due to her lifestyle, things she said and sexual behaviour/influence on her fans.

    And please keep in mind (and this is the foundation of my entire standpoint in this specific issue) that Rihanna has promoted the debated word so freely, not thinking of people like you (who she thinks she is standing up for in this debate, but who she has been damaging with her vocabulary for years) all across the world, including Europe. She’s made money off people she’s now forbidding (indirectly) to repeat the words she’s been teaching them as being hip. And I truly believe that if an editor, like the one on trial these past days, uses that word in the entertainment industry, its really a matter of it (the industry) reaping what it has been sowing for years. Nothing more and nothing less.

  • Chris Develing

    @Alfred

    I can understand your issue’s with my assumptions. Let’s say I was thinking out loud and trying to determine what the consequences would be. You now had a chance to explain better what you meant. So that’s clear now.

    So, … context is the key. But what about the context of the editor’s view? I understand what you’re saying about her failing to think about sensitivities. But could it be that she has never seen sensitivities up close and personal, regarding this word? And if so (sorry for assuming again but I think we have to run by the options) how can we blame her for not having a picture of what people might feel. An editor thinks about her readers all the time before printing. That’s her money ticket. So my guess would be that she felt that her readers were gonna notice this slogan and smile, if anything. And by saying that she might not have ever encountered anger and hurt from this word, I don’t mean she doesn’t have black people in her environment, but more that she has heard the word around her in only amicable ways. She might have even used the word to describe herself(which was stated in Dutch media the following days). And yea, that comes across naieve and reminds me of that kid in a video made once by Offspring (pretty fly for a white guy) or may even be called some sort of vanilla ice-syndrome. But that doesn’t make it ignorant or failing to do ones job.

    And again: I really don’t understand why journalists (of an entertainment glossy, not the 6 o’clock news) are expected by you to have more ethics than an artist. You know how much artists have an influence on children. It’s much more than any magazine ever could. That’s why magazine’s generally follow the artists and repeat whatever they sound or look like, to get attention from their fans. So isn’t it pure logic that to describe Rihanna, the N-word would seem fitting, since she has indirectly asked to be called that way through her music. Listen to the song G4L and hear her say the N-word.

    And that is most of my case. I’m definately on your side (and from the looks of it perhaps even more conservative ;) ) when it comes to usage of the debated word. But I can’t stand the hypocrisy and the lack of understanding what her actions do to people (including naieve editors who follow their every move) which Rihanna has displayed. And (again I’m assuming) I really think that the skin color of Eva Hoeke made all the difference in the world for Rihanna. And that is…. Always … wrong.

    Thank you for your time. It’s great to be able to debate about this without being called a racist or a fool ;)

  • charles consult

    I used to listen to Red Foxx with his party albums in the early 70′s. Then I moved on to Richard Pryor in the late 70s, then Eddy Murphy, then to rap/hip hop music. I am very familiar with the use of the word ‘nigga’ in the context of African American popular culture. I understand also the context of African American’s in American culture. I believe that the problem is the latter, the context of Blacks within American culture that is the problem. This problem is made worse by the fact that this context is exported uncritically, throughout the world as one of our greatest exports.

    Richard Pryor went to Africa and realized the harm that he had done by promoting the word ‘nigga’ for international export – and promised never to do it again. But that genie has left the bottle. It also doesn’t address the problem of the Black context within the greater American society. We (African-Americans) are clearly second class citizens in the US, which is one of the reasons I expatriated to Holland. Until we are able to deal successfully with this second class status, the US will continue to export its racist viewpoints throughout the world.

    As for the article in question, Dutch folks watch “Law and Order”, listen to US media, and consume the product uncritically. Remember that Holland does not have a history of 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow, and so forth. As far as they know, all of the US made media that they consume is “the truth”. But, I don’t blame them, I don’t blame Rihanna, I don’t blame Black actors and comedians, I blame the greater ‘white society’ within the US that has a habit of using minstrel humor and promoting entertainment that creates these stereotypes of inferiority that comfort white society and that undermines Black success, Black pride, and Black identity.

    As for Eva Hoeke, she screwed up. There was quite the Twitter buzz around here about this issue and it was clear that she had stepped in a hornet’s nest. Dutch people don’t really know what is going on in the US, and that is clear by these sorts of tone deaf actions. When I talk to Dutch people, I have to admire them for their honesty and forthrightness. That said, I wish they knew more truth about our society because they like African Americans and I believe they would be great allies and friends.

    • Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      Thanks so much for your insights, Charles. Your unique point of view as an African American living in Holland is invaluable contribution to this discussion.

      Alfred

    • RongHua Ching

      Thanks for sharing your viewpoint, really appreciate your comment.

  • Chris Develing

    @Charles

    It’s so good to read an honest analysis of Holland from someone who’s been on both sides of the ocean, and knows what he’s talking about.

    I agree with most you said. Although I don’t agree with the ‘I don’t blame Rihanna’ part. I believe people are responsible for their own actions. Rihanna is not a victim of any society-burden of some sort, in my opinion. She’s loaded with cash and has free will to sing about whatever she wants. And yet she still choses to sing the N-word and get mad when this word is repeated with the same intent, by someone with a different color of skin, while failing to realize the context of the person’s background and knowledge of the word.

    I also have thought alot about the story of Richard Prior these past days. I remember him saying how the trip to Africa changed his point of view, when a local asked him if he had heard the N-word during his stay. So Prior took his responsibility starting that day. He would no longer be exporting the N-word and from that moment on he was a legit advocate for not using the debated word, oposed to Rihanna who is (i.m.o.) an illegitimate (or illogical) one. That is admirable.

    I would ask you about your feelings on alot of issue’s in Holland as well as America but I’m not sure this is the place. I’m just glad you sort of ‘get’ the dutch. We’re misunderstood alot. This due to our own, rather blunt, way of reaching out, I admit. But I really don’t think we (if you can generalize that far) are as bad as some people make us out to be. If you watch youtube there are entire channels devoted to proving a deep rooted racism in dutch society. This hurts me alot, because I just can’t agree with it no matter how objective I try to look at their accusations.

    Anyways, I can’t tell you how proud I am to read that someone chose my country to get away from the second class treatment in another country, although it is ofcourse sad that you didn’t feel you could stay in your own country, since that is a man’s first home. In my opinion that is what my country has stood for throughout history. A safe haven for those that were outkast in their own counry. Wether it was based on their religion, their political status or the color of their skin. This reason (the freedom to chose your religion) was actually the founding reason for the existance of The Netherlands :)

  • RongHua Ching

    The founding reason for the existance of The Netherlands??? Please consult an encyclopedia, compendium, directory, Dutch historian who knows facts from fiction. Seek advice from Maarten van Rossum, an expert Dutch authority on American history to get your facts straight if you refuse to listen, read what’Americans’ are trying to convey to you. You are a joke, I rest my case!

    • Chrirs Develing

      You are exposing yourself more and more as someone who ‘just doesn’t like the dutch’. As I’ve said, there are entire websites devoted to proving the so called deep rooted racism in Holland. So I know about the things that you claim I don’t know of. Stop being such an anti-person. Be positive.

      • Chris Develing

        It’s a sad sad thing but RongHua’s comment proves my earlier point. Alot of people are always trying to show the world that a certain country (mostly white for some reason) is evil or whatever.

        Because of her constant vagueness and cryptic way of speaking, It’s impossible to know exactly what knowledge RongHua advises me to look up. But I’ve been in alot of these discussions, so I can perhaps estimate what she is referring to.

        Anyway, I had a positive contribution (i think) for charles about the founding reasons of my country. Even though I was not talking to RongHua, she attacks me again. Which is fine, but to me that shows she’s constantly following my words and tries to make me look bad. It’s ok, but I just think it’s a little sad.

        To elaborate on what I told Charles: The Dutch Declaration of Independance was a source of inspiration to the American version, some time later in history. Alot of words were even copied. The Dutch version was made after a long war with Spain, which had invaded the Netherlands long before. The Dutch became victims of religious supression by means of huge violence. So, the Dutch wanted freedom, fought for it and made it happen. After that a golden age occured. This was made possible due to the huge immigrant stream that entered the Netherlands before then, which included alot of highly educated people. This stream of refugees came about, because refugees all over Europe had heard about Holland’s self-made freedom. So it’s a very simular story to America’s.

        What RongHua is probably refering to is slavery. Again: its very sad she wants to throw that in my face now, when I refer to a more positive aspect of the time before then. I’m sure RongHua will say the Dutch became rich off of their colonies and have had alot of slaves. This is all true, but nothing new to any of us reading this web page, I’m sure. All of western europe was at one point a slave trading nation. Which is no excuse ofcourse. But why bring it up now? I don’t know. She’s probably trying to make me feel ashamed for something of the past. Trying to shut me up, since I don’t have a clean sheet, in her opinion. Which would be odd btw, since she doesn’t know where my family is from at all. I’m sure she has these and more simple views on life. It’s ok though.

        Refering to history, .. I think maybe RongHua should take the time focussing on all slave trading in this world. She’ll find that the Muslim Arabs have traded slaves far longer throughout history and far more recently. Not that I would beat them up because of this in present time. But RongHua would, if she was fair to herself. Also the Chinese have traded slaves and many other asian countries. Heck, even the Africans had slaves before the Europeans showed up. But these terrible moments in time have slipped from RongHua’s attention. Perhaps she’s focussed on just making certain countries look bad. I don’t know. But I ask all readers to take her little non-substantive insinuations lightly.

  • Korilian

    “Nor would they have found evidence (outside of the music lyrics they apparently used for their “research” of Black American culture) that the term is acceptable slang that is widely used in a non-derogatory manner.”

    That’s what I though. And then I turned on my tv last week to hear a young black Dutch rapper use the N-word to describe an elderly white man with seemingly positive intend. I’d say people should rightly worry about context being lost when they transport culture abroad.

  • A black man. An AMERICAN first.

    The evildoers with this word NIGGER are the black rap thugs with their PROMOTION OF THE BLACK TRASH PRISON CULTURE.
    That is where the pants hanging low thing came from. In PRISON you have no belt, so your pants sag. The jackasses got out of jail, and continued to dress the same way. They are evildoers leading others on the road to Hell. Biggest offender- Snoop whatever his name is. Drug use is not funny, and MANY black men in in jail because of drugs.
    The white producers sit back, rake the cash in, as their STEP AND FETCHITS promote crime, bastard children, welfare, and dope.
    Also, they promote the incorrect usage of the English language. Try to get hired if you can’t fill out a job application, pass a drug test, or speack English correctly.
    Also, felons can’t vote, own a firearm, and are at a higher risk for disease being on the PRISON down-low.
    -lowell@speakeasy.net

    They’re killing us. The black rap music people. A plague upon us.

    • Succesful Sim

      I do understand we’re you are coming from however, I hope that you do understand that not all rap music is negative. In addition to that black rap artists are not the only ones that make negative rap music.

    • Thank goodness for the truth

      I was wondering when someone was going to cut through the bs and tell the TRUTH!!!!
      Once black people seek truth, only then will stop being tools and fools for the industry, to be USED and spit
      out. Garbage in, garbage out. It doesn’t matter WHAT they say after that.

    • Truth lover

      They call these type industry whores. Selling themselves to the devil through various rituals (homosexual,
      blood sacrifices killings, worshiping of ancient whore goddeses, etc). They are literally being pimped by and evil and deceptive entity so deceiving that they don’t even realize they are participating in their own destruction.
      Using the N word is the least of their worries.

  • Succesful Sim

    I agree 100% with Alfred. I personally CANNOT STAND to “N” word and when I hear it from other people, I physically react as if you stung me with a switch. Why do we still give this word energy and life by allowing it to pass through our lips, I just can’t ascertain.

  • Grandma Madge

    When you get up on a stage with your tail hanging out, shaking it in front of millions, telling them to “come along
    boys” and get it up, Your’re not worried about being called a n**b**. If you are, refuse the next paycheck from
    the music industry pimps. Its not hard to send the signals of respect to get respect. How did Holland get the
    impression of a n**B** when they saw you? Hmm. . . Back in the day they called them SINGERS.

  • Grandma Madge

    When you get up on a stage with your tail hanging out, shaking it in front of millions, telling them to “come along
    boys” and get it up, Your’re not worried about being called a n**b**. If you are, refuse the next paycheck from
    the music industry pimps. Its not hard to send the signals of respect to get respect. How did Holland get the
    impression of a n**B** when they saw you? Hmm. . . Back in the day they called you SINGERS.

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