On Rappers, CVS Ladies, and the N-Word

FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2016, file photo. Kanye West appears at the MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden in New York. West responded to critical tweets from his former protege Kid Cudi by telling the fellow rapper never to mention him during a show in Tampa, Fla., on Sept, 14, 2016. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.

I guess the N-word is what we’re doing on Twitter today.

It seems that every so often, a conversation arises on the right about the use of the term. It’s usually a response to a viral video showing someone using the word in a derogatory manner.

Or sometimes it comes up because a famous individual is caught saying it. This time, it was the now-infamous CVS lady, who was filmed screaming at a black woman and repeatedly calling her the N-word.

“I hate n*ggers!” she yelled as she walked to her car. The woman began using the slur over and over again: “I would kill a n*gger, but the law says I can’t kill the n*ggers. If the law didn’t say that I couldn’t kill the n*ggers, they’d all be dead.”

This is where I would normally say: “Imagine being this person.” Instead, just be grateful that you’re not.

The identity of the woman was finally revealed, and she lost her job. But that hasn’t stopped the backlash.

Conservative pundit Brandon Tatum posted a video on YouTube titled “The White lady at CVS can’t say it BUT Rappers can?” In the video, he played the footage of the woman’s rant, then played clips of rappers using the N-word in their music.

He then argued that the woman’s use of the word was equivalent to how hip-hop artists use it in their songs. “If you gonna be mad and offended because some white lady at CVS used the N-word, you should be offended when Nipsey do it, you should be offended when Young Jeezy do it,” he said.

Tatum then discussed the fact that white supremacist violence against blacks is far less than black-on-black violence. It was a departure from the original point, but it echoed the same arguments made when Congress held hearings discussing the impact of white nationalism.

Needless to say, his video elicited quite a reaction. Some agreed with his opinion while others did not. Interestingly enough, many of those who disagreed with Tatum were Trump supporters. One user tweeted:


Another took issue with the false equivalency in his arguments, tweeting:

The debate over the N-word has been constant on the right. But it is also a discussion common in the black community as well. Some believe that the word is harmless when used by other blacks. Others think it should never be used by anyone regardless of the meaning.

People on both sides of this argument make compelling points. But this particular video obfuscates the issue in a way that is unnecessary and intellectually dishonest. Those who responded to Tatum’s video were right: There is no equivalency between the CVS lady’s use of the epithet and the way the word is used among blacks.

Most know that when blacks use the N-word in reference to one another, it is typically a term of endearment, a way to call someone “friend” or “brother.” It is apparent that the lady in the video was not using it in this fashion; she was using it in the traditional manner, as a slur.

The notion that these two situations are the same is patently absurd. Regardless of where one falls on the debate over the N-word, it is easy to see how one is far less offensive than the other.

If you think nobody should use the word, that’s fine. Not everyone is going to agree, but I believe you can make a valid case for it. As stated previously, blacks fall on both sides of this issue.

But to pretend that a rapper using the word is the same as an actual racist is an intellectually dishonest way to distract from the conversation and it downplays the woman’s behavior. And the notion that the issue of white supremacist violence vs. black-on-black crime is at all relevant to the conversation is a bit silly.

Nobody – including individuals on the left – actually believes this lady is going to go on a killing spree in Watts. Nor do they believe that white nationalists are hiding behind every tree with a rope waiting to kill the nearest black person.

People on both sides of the political spectrum were rightly offended by the woman’s actions because they were clearly racist, and the majority of Americans are offended by actual racism. If we’re going to discuss these issues, we must discuss them honestly, and without political agendas. Otherwise, productive conversations cannot happen.


What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

If you want to discuss further, follow me on Twitter: @JeffOnTheRight