Almost everybody knows the words to the Fugees classic Ready Or Not. Gina Rodriguez recently posted herself singing along. Voodoo/I can do what you do, easy/ Believe me, frontin’ niggas give me heebie-jeebies. The issue? Gina Rodriguez is not Black. To add insult to injury, she has exhibited behavior that is extremely anti-Black. She frequently uses her voice to talk over and dismiss Black women. In her half-ass apology, Gina apologized if she offended anyone by “just singing along” to her favorite nostalgic track. Completely glossing over the actual issue at hand. This situation is reminiscent of how Jennifer Lopez took it upon herself to “tell them niggas mind they biz” during her hip-hop/baby hair era. Even then, excuses were made for her because she is from the Bronx. Unfortunately, it is common for non-Black people of color to feel like it is acceptable to use the word. Simply for being a person of color. This is problematic at best and life-threatening at worst.
Black people absolutely reserve the right to take issue with anyone that isn’t Black using the “n” word. Hard “r” or not. Black Americans are savagely being murdered in their homes by police officers who are literally met with open arms on their way to serve their dismal sentences. If they go to jail at all. We are discriminated against just for existing. Our skin is weaponized. Our culture is hated on us, but hijacked and glorified on others. The rest of America has the privilege of brushing over the topics of race and racism. Nobody that isn’t African American wants to be Black. That is, until it’s time to say “nigga” in rap songs. Then everyone is proud of their one drop of Black blood. Furthermore, Black musicians who use the word are making music for their peers. Any non-Black person choosing to observe said culture needs to understand that, like dreadlocks and cornrows, everything isn’t for them.
Alas, it is not my responsibility to police who can and cannot use the word. I don’t have the time, energy, or patience. There will always be Black people that are indifferent to who uses it, and that is rightfully their prerogative. What I can do, however, is to advise any non-Black person to use their own discretion and common sense when making the (ignorant) decision to use it among Black people. Freedom of speech does not equate to freedom of consequence. Folks have lost their jobs and worse over their use of this word. Anyone that can spend hours arguing about why they should be allowed to say “nigga” needs to redirect that energy towards the Black Lives Matter movement or ending systemic racism. At the end of the day, the word isn’t a slur because Black people created it for use amongst ourselves. Blame your ancestors if you have a problem.