PHOTO CREDIT: TheLifeFiles
Gwyneth Paltrow is not a racist. But she can’t call me a “nigga.”
A few days ago, fresh off a monumental celebration, the Oscar-winning actress tweeted a picture of The-Dream and Jay-Z’s cousins TyTy and BeeHigh. Under it, the caption read: “N*ggas In Paris, for real.”
What followed was a contained outrage from many African-Americans feeling slighted by the joke and demanding an apology. There was no apology. Instead, Paltrow defended her use of the phrase by tweeting, “Hold up. It’s the title of the song!”
Paltrow is correct in that the name of the song is “Niggas In Paris,” titled to represent the unfathomable journey these two Black men have made from their humble beginnings in Brooklyn and Chicago to the lavish life they’ve earned for themselves. “Niggas in Paris” is an homage to being self-made. “If you escaped what I escaped, you’d be in Paris getting fucked up to”
While it’s uncomfortable to see non-Black people say the uncensored title, it’s the name of the song. But that is not what Paltrow did. The use of the phrase “for real” changed the game.
Russell Simmons lackadaisically defended Paltrow, blogging that Paltrow was just in Paris having fun with her friends. No harm. No foul. However, he never addressed the actual offense, which wasn’t saying the song title. It was applying it. Jay and Kanye labeled themselves “Niggas” because that is their right to do. Gwyneth publicly labeled three Black men “niggas,” which was uncomfortable to watch.
Less than twenty-four hours later, The-Dream debuted his new single, “Dope Bitch.” In homage to his lady, Terius sings, “and I mean no disrespect by this line, I got a dope bitch.”
This time discomfort came from several women taking issue with The-Dream’s use of the word “bitch.”
We could resurrect the ongoing debate over the use of the words “nigga” and “bitch,” but that’s not the point being made here. What I found most interesting about the digital ground-swell that followed both issues was the opposition to those annoyed.