It's about time it stopped being a racially exclusive word. Besides, she has a few adopted black kids so she's not racist.
and I don't think specific people are ever going to be able to use that word without evoking its history. It's better just to not use it.
An agent and a chef
Three nannies, an assistant
And a driver and a jet
A trainer and a butler
And a bodyguard or five
A gardener and a stylist
Do you think #disnigga satisfied?
think of any other 50 something mom trying to be hip & impress their kids' friends. She's not so different. Inserting her grill on SNL topped it. She should just go away.
or all words are meaningless. The idea that certain words are verboten to sections of the population in and of themselves is extremely sinister.
except if it's madonna cos she's a daftie
is been to lazy to look at the context and assess it on its merits, instead posting a generic comment that could be applied to any use of any word ever.
where it'd be acceptable for a white person to use the n-word.
When portaying a slave master in a movie.
I think you mean nigger/nigga, or some variation of it. Because it's wrong for a white person to use it of their own accord, as Madonna has done, but it's not wrong for a white person to quote others using the word, or literally just say the word, because the word isn't offensive in itself, as it's only a collection of letters.
When people they "It's wrong for white people to use the word nigger", they mean "It's wrong for a white person to go around calling their friends niggaz for a laugh", not that "It's wrong for white people to even say the word nigger when they're talking about the word nigger, they instead have to say 'the N-word', which everyone KNOWS means nigger, so they're essentially STILL saying the word nigger, but in a way which is inexplicably more acceptable to other white people".
I mean, it would make more sense if people referred to it as 'a racist word' or something, because at least you wouldn't actually know which word it was, but to self censor yourself whilst at the same time letting everyone know exactly what word you're talking about is utterly pointless.
Disclaimer: this is not me saying it's okay for white people to go around saying racist words all the time. I'm saying that when we're discussing racist words, words that our ancestors used as tools of oppression, we should be mature enough to actually use the words in question.
Someone coming on here for the latest Radiohead gossip might not want that word thrown in their face. I think censoring it is just kind of polite.
we're still all thinking "that means nigger" in our heads, right? So if we wanted to avoid it being a trigger (which realistically is the only reason that someone would get upset at reading word as a quote, because it triggers memories of racial abuse etc), wouldn't it be better to just say "a racist word"?
dunno, it does still seem more shocking to see it written out than 'the n-word', think seeing 'the n-word' does kind of cushion it
but our need for a cushion is just a white guilt thing, it's us refusing to tackle head-on the racist legacy of our ancestors. By saying 'the N word' we don't have to acknowledge to the same degree what our ancestors did. And that makes me feel uncomfortable. It's like if Germans referred to the Holocaust as "the H-word" or something (whereas in reality, Germany has always dealt with the Nazi legacy in clear, self aware, non-euphemistic terms).
loads of words are offensive, however we are mostly able to discuss them without resorting to self-censoring.
it's only offensive if used in an offensive context.
Find a place where there happen to be a large contingent of black people, and say that particular word as a greeting. Give me the heads up first though, so I can witness the results. You obviously haven't thought this through.
This is what I wrote just up there:
Bit rich coming from a person who is freely posting racial slurs in the thread. After all, you have no idea who could be reading.
that there are reasons why we do not use that word in full. Obvious reasons in fact. I've noticed that you like to give off this air of being smart and educated, Calum, but still you miss the obvious: We do not say that word... because it is racist and it's offensive. I don't know what your deal is here with wanting whites to be free to use the word, but horses for courses. I think we're done here, champ.
I think you're having trouble understanding my point.
Let me simplify it for you:
There is a post about Madonna using the word 'nigger' in an Instagram post.
Everyone uses the phrase 'the N-word', which is an arbitrarily less offensive version of the word 'nigger'.
I point out that if you genuinely didn't want anyone to know what the word was, you wouldn't say 'the N-word', you'd say 'a racist slur' etc.
I point out that by quoting the word 'nigger', you're not actually offending anyone, as you're simply quoting someone else.
I further state that in my opinion, to face up to the atrocities of our ancestors, we need to be able to stomach the racist phrases that they used.
I also point out that self censoring only benefits white people, by allowing them to feel a bit more comfortable with a word that makes them feel guilty.
I don't think that white people should have this privilege. Therefore, I think it is our responsibility to always say the whole word, whenever we need to talk about it, as to me it is symbolic of (in a British context) tackling the legacy of colonialism.
That's pretty simple, I think. I can understand why someone wouldn't agree, but to suggest I'm actually racist/ignorant is just a bit desperate.
But, okay... let's say that we "take away the privilege" of being able to self-censor that word, and "face up" to how our ancestors treated a certain group of people. What are we left with?
A word that is still racist and offensive.
Fucking hell, Calum!
we're just phrasing it differently. It means the same thing. So we have two options.
1) Complete censorship. We refuse to ever say or reference the word again.
2) Act maturely and treat the word with the weight it demands. Realise that we can't eliminate the past, and to actually be able to face past atrocities is a much better response than hiding them.
You can't deny history, but at the same time you can't treat the word with the weight that it demands. Why? Because it may be all well and good for white people to 'face past atrocities' for the way their ancestors treated black people historically, but for black people it's a whole 'nother matter. They're well AWARE of what happened historically, and would rather not be reminded of it. A compromise must be reached - and that's why people refer to that word using 'the N word' or whatever. I don't think it's meant to be a sanitised way of "saying the same thing", it's a way of acknowledging the word exists/has existed but at the same time having the good grace to not actually say it.
You're certainly not speaking for ME, in any case.
I'm not at any point speaking for all white people. That would consist of me saying "white people think this..." and I haven't done that at any point. I'm saying that white people have an obligation to face their past, and not to use euphemisms in order to spare their own feelings. That's not speaking FOR white people, that's me saying what white people should do.
Also, don't kid yourself that white people self censor in order to spare the feelings of black people. They do it for themselves, in order to spare their OWN feelings, and in order to reduce their OWN sense of guilt.
or reduce my own sense of guilt at all. What our ancestors did, when it comes to the crunch, has absolutely fuck-all to do with me. I don't say that word because... as I said before... it's racist, it's offensive, and it's downright rude to do so. Not to mention that there's absolutely no need for me to say it. At all.
but you seem to see things only in black and white
didn't realise there was a whole fucking wikipedia page about it
also, you should take note of the second sentence in the Intro, as well as the second half of the "In philosophy" section (everything from "Donald Davidson told that ...").
possibly, but I dont think that is directly comparable, I think the equivalent of holocaust would be the word slavery. I think it is good the word has such a unspeakable power to it, it constantly reinforces how unacceptable attitudes of that era were
And as for the retort that there are 'loads of words that are offensive', I could quite possibly right now call calumlynn a 'cunt', but... that word doesn't carry the same historical weight as the particular word we're discussing. It certainly wouldn't evoke thousands of years of calumlynn's ancestors looking like vaginas, anyway. Or maybe it does! I'm not privy to that.
as it implies the concepts behind the words are unspeakable, which is the wrong way to approach ANY atrocities. And if it is the case, we should still be saying 'a racist phrase', not just using what is essentially a different spelling of exactly the same word.
And I'm not sure that white people should have the right to be offended by words that will never apply to them, and that their own ancestors are responsible for.
Which you're failing miserably at by posting the word in full time and time again in the thread. Idiot.
I'm obviously going to use that actual word. I studied the word at university when I was doing a degree in English Language. Lecturers said it in lectures. It featured heavily in an essay I wrote about language of oppression. I obviously didn't refer to it as 'the N word' throughout my writing.
There isn't any reason for white people to use the word 'nigger' unless they're quoting whilst talking about racial issues, or discussing the word itself. But, in those two circumstances (the latter which is applicable here), there is absolutely no reason to avoid saying the whole word. I'm confident that I'm not racist, I'm confident that I will never use that word in a racist way, and I'm confident that I'll always avoid saying that word around people to whom it could be a trigger.
I'm very, very sorry if that word is a trigger to anyone who posts on here. I'm not sorry if it makes a few white people feel uncomfortable, however.
And by the way, the word 'nigger' isn't censored in broadsheet publications, so I'm pretty sure the majority of people don't think it's offensive to see written down, when it's quoting or talking about the word itself?
And this pretty much sums up my feelings towards white people and self censoring the word 'nigger': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYYBJ8XRdh4
A public forum, where your words are for anyone to see, is not the same as writing it in a university essay about the language of oppression, and adjustments should be made as such to avoid offending people. You say you're apologetic if your words are a 'trigger' for offending a specific set of people, but honestly, if that really was the case, you would have avoided using the word entirely.
I suspect that this is more about you wanting to freely use a taboo, racial slur and nothing more.
Do you disagree with those being used on a public website, where anyone could see it?
and I'd seriously like to think that any sane human being would refrain from using the word just because The Guardian feels its acceptable to do so (it isn't).
I respectfully disagree. And obviously I don't think it's okay to write out the entire word just because the Guardian thinks it's okay- I presume that the Guardian, like me, don't think there is any need for censorship in mature discussion.
Because obviously words like rape can be triggers to many people, but we can't constantly self censor, which is why it's important to put trigger warnings on things.
But to go back to a much earlier point, the phrase 'the N-word' is just as likely to be a trigger as the word 'nigger', as they mean exactly the same thing.
But at least the former shows a degree of respect, rather than bludgeoning someone over the head with the latter.
or causing filters/work to think you're looking at something inappropriate.
Seems like good internet etiquette to me.
The rest should be shot out of cannons.
didnt realise it was in reference to her child
oh wait, her white child, still....
... but Calum is correct. Context means everything. Words on their own do not actually have meaning, and it's us that apply that meaning to them. And I'm talking more deeply than just simple definitions.
Merely saying a word doesn't make that word offensive. It's the intent of the word that gives it its power and its meaning. It's why we cringed when Calum used the word above, but don't cringe when we listen to 36 Chambers.
It's kinda crappy that Madonna ended something with #disnigga, but it's not as though her intent was malicious. Though misguided in the attempt, she was trying to be sweet.
and i wasn't defending Madonna btw (although it clearly doesn't make her 'racist', I just don't think she has the right to use that word in an offhand way), I just mean that it isn't racist or disrespectful to just say a word when you're talking about that word, and it actually encourages mature debate imo.
Then I followed a lot of people of colour (there's another phrase I never used to use until I followed a lot of people of colour) and I realised that it's really not acceptable to use the word just because you're intellectualising it's use. Sure, there will be times when it's purely academic or whatever, and it can be used.
This ISN'T one of those times.
While the N-Word may be a synonym, to claim it's entirely the same as writing it, is to imply using 'The C-Word' is the same as writing that: it's not. People respect that you are referencing something without belittling its significance to them, even if it there is no significance to you.
So, my experience of what people of colour have written is that it is safer to avoid using that word if you want to avoid offending some people. Some people won't care but that is true of so many things that are classed as offensive and that doesn't mean we should ignore those that can be offended.
You bring up "the c-word", which is interesting. In one of the first drafts of me trying to agree with Calum without sounding like a tit, I pointed out that, here in America, that word is godawful and will get you punched in the mouth. But there are OTHER places where the word is less so. In fact, I know a lot of people who think it's as bad as "the n-word", but a lot who think the taboo nature of the word is ridiculous.
I agree with you, Theo, that saying "the n-word" is by no means the same as actually saying "nigger", from a discussion standpoint. However, there's this weird thing going on with the phrase "the n-word" where you're somehow almost tricking someone else into thinking the word, which keeps it stuck in their brains, which keeps the power of the word alive.
I think the problem is, the word should be treated with a certain weight. Few words have the same stark power as that one, but I think the way to take away some of the evil from the word is to, through polite discussion and dissection, rob it of that power. In some ways (and I KNOW that this is a controversial thing to say), the fear of the word is why it's still so powerful. This is NOT to say that we should all feel free to use it, mind you, but I think that, if Madonna says "dis nigga" affectionately about her son, we shouldn't jump down her throat, we should examine the intent, because the intent means everything. It's why the scene in Pulp Fiction when Quentin Tarantino is asking Vince and Jules if there's a sign on his garage that says "Dead Nigger Storage" is funny, and not despicable - to me, at least.
KEEP IN MIND: I completely understand disagreeing with absolutely everything I've said, and that Calum has said. It's a touchy subject, and the word's history is a deep-rooted thing. This is all my own personal opinion, and while I'd like us to get to the point where we aren't afraid of the word like we are, if we never DO, I'm going to understand.
tl, dr: Words are only as powerful as the meaning we give them, and if we want to wrestle that power away from those who want to use it to harm others, we shouldn't be afraid to judge the word based on its context, rather than on the fact that it was used at all.
And what says 'treating a word as having a certain weight' more than white kids on an internet forum discussing Madonna using it on Instagram?
The intent doesn't mean everything. You can't get out of being wrong by saying, "Oh, I didn't mean it like that," although you *can* make people feel less strongly against you for what you did. Particularly, there are no parallels to real life that you can draw to a movie like Pulp Fiction because there are whole layers of context there.
To be honest, I'm not sure what you are arguing now. Are there times when using the N-Word is mealy-mouthed and stupid? Yes, I'm sure there are, but this isn't one of them so discussions around its appropriateness are entirely moot.
People aren't 'afraid' of the word, they're simply showing some respect and thought for others, the same reasons I did my best not to swear in front of my granny or still do my best not to swear in front of customers at work.
"People of colour"? So is this now an okay phrase to use??
its hard to keep on top of this stuff, for example i'm mixed race but apparently mixed is an offensive term now, I must not have recieved the people of colour newsletter
1. it's worth attending to the use-mention distinction; this is one way to acknowledge that "context matters"
2. it's worth being sensitive to the fact that the use-mention distinction isn't clear cut, that in mentioning a word one inevitably cites (recalls, repeats) some/many of its potential uses, and contexts of use — inevitably, because "meaning is always a matter of context".
3. we might be able to distinguish between "context" as context of use (here and now, or in a given situation) and historical context of development (the many previous here-and-nows or given situations of the past); the former cannot be removed from the latter; the context of historical use necessarily remains part of the context of present use, regardless of whether one intends, or means, or wants this historical context to form part of the context of use.
4. "context", then, is not the same as "intention"; "intention" forms part of the context, but does not saturate it; the power and meaning of a word derive (again) from history, and it is this history that allows us to intend or deny that we intend a given meaning in a given situation; or to put this another way, the "us" that "gives meaning" to words is not us "individually", nor even "we collectively", but something both vaster (as well as less coherent) than all that.
5. the very formulation of the principle that "context is everything, and so no word should be absolutely prohibited" is at the very same time the betrayal of that principle, as the restriction on prohibition serves to deny that the historical context of use might be such that a given word is worth prohibiting — for a time (which is to say, for the duration of a temporal context that exceeds any given specific moment of use, but which might not extend infinitely).
Historically, the word is incredibly terrible, and it is completely well worth total blanket prohibition. Few obscenities have the same checkered background as that one word does. Part of the discussion about context comes from the fact that, at this point in our history, there are people searching to re-appropriate the term (specifically the hip-hop community), leading to the common argument of "I can say it, but you cannot". That Chris Rock bit where he talks about the difference between black people and niggas? He never performed it again, because it made white people think they could use it.
So here's the question, then: who's allowed to use it? What situations make it okay? If I use it when I'm doing laundry and rapping along to "New Slaves", am I racist? If Nas tries to name his album "Nigger", is he racist? I think the answer to both is NO, of course not, because - and here's where the context and intent stuff comes in - neither Nas nor I are using it to disparage an entire race of people.
We will absolutely never remove the historic context of the word, and I will never argue that we should. But, I feel like, in very specific situations, the intent should be examined to figure out whether the word that was used plain old should not have been used, or if we need to label that person as a racist who should be removed from society. In the case against Madonna, I feel like it's worth assuming that Madonna was not using the word with any malicious intent, and while she doesn't deserve a pass for that, I don't think she should be labeled as racist for her particular use of it.
OF COURSE, as I said above about the matter, I completely, 100%, totally, absolutely understand not agreeing with me. I understand that this word is total bumslops, and we should really not be using it at all. I personally think, if someone DOES use it, it's worth basing our judgment on the specific use and the user, rather than on the simple fact that it was used at all.
It's an ugly, complex issue, and if anything I've said doesn't make sense or is disagreeable, know that I'm honestly having trouble with communicating it in a way that makes sense.
I'm just thinking out loud about the ways in which the "context is everything" line can often be used to simplify matters and ignore specific differences rather than respect them.
Given her track record of creativity, I find this unlikely.
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