With a new year comes new music. One of the most anticipated albums being released this year is Nas’ “Nigger” album- yes, that’s exactly what its called. There has been a lot of criticism of the title by black activists and organizations such as the NAACP, citing that it is going against what they are trying to accomplish. The NAACP not too long ago had a funeral service for the “N”-word in hopes of burying it forever from use in the vocabulary of today’s society. I am reminded of a phrase that is used in the Marine Corps when I hear things like this, “Good initiative, bad judgment”. We, as a people, can try to control how the word is used (changing it to “Nigga”) who uses it (as was the case when Jennifer Lopez said it in one of her songs) or even if the word is used at all (trying to bury it) but the fact still remains that the word itself is not the problem- it's the meaning and hatred.
There will always be racism. There will always be biased, ignorant and hateful persons as long as there are humans. It is also in our nature to be fearful of things that are different or we do not understand. Quite frankly, I would much rather have the “N”-word being used. At least when it is, I will know that I am being insulted. Blatant racism is much easier to curtail than shadow racism. There are far worse pet names that they could be using than “Nigger” (an ignorant person of hue or color). Racism in this country has become a joke that I just don’t understand. Every time someone of prominence makes inflammatory statements directed to or about us, it is later dispelled as, “a lapse in judgment” or “I said it jokingly”. Since when has it been considered a joke to say, “The other players should take him in a dark alley and lynch him”. They knew exactly what they were trying to say because they said it.
Racism is not something that comes and goes like cold. No, it is much more like allergies, always there just not making its self present until triggered. Legally, that is considered inciting others to violence, a tactic often used by the Klu Klux Klan. Nas’ album title says exactly what we refuse to admit. To many out there, we will always be “Niggers”, and nothing we do or say as a people can change that. Nas as an artist has always been like a Marvin Gaye song, conscious of what’s going on. This being such, I know he will address this issue in his music. I can only hope that we all take the time to pay for CD as well as pay attention.
-L. A. Grant
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