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While we’ve been debating on whether or not Rihanna is Fashionista of the Year, Dutch Magazine Jackie has its own title to bestow on the pop diva: the Ultimate ” Niggabitch.”
The magazine references Ms. Fenty’s “street cred,” and “ghetto ass” as top qualifications for this award, saying she “displays that gladly, and for her that means: what’s on can come off. If that means she’ll be on stage half naked, then so be it.” They also refer to Rihanna as “Jamaican,” because in their world, Jamaica and Barbados are the same place, as they are Caribbean islands where black people with funny accents live. We don’t need to break down this language to know it is rife with ignorant racist imagery. It’s offensive (albeit unsuprising), and filled with misguided ideas about what it means to exist as a black person in the world.
The magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Eva Hoeke issued an apology saying: “I can be brief about this: this should have never happened. Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was intended as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least. And that slipped through my, the editor-in-chief’s, fingers. Stupid, painful and sucks for all concerned. The author has been addressed on it, and now I can only ensure that these terms will no longer end up in the magazine. Furthermore I hope that you all believe there was absolutely no racist motive behind the choice of words. It was stupid, it was naive to think that this was an acceptable form of slang — you hear it all the time on TV and radio, then your idea of what is normal apparently shifts — but it was especially misguided: there was no malice behind it.We make our magazine with love, energy and enthusiasm, and it can sometimes happen that someone is out of line. And then you can only do one thing: apologize. And hope that others wish to accept it. From the bottom of my heart I say it again: we never intended to offend anyone. And I mean that.”
You can try to make the argument for a bad translation or a misunderstanding of American culture and the use of and history behind that word, but it is a feeble one as western (and other) societies are well aware of the hurt those words carry for black people, especially in this country. To use the age-old trope “but black people use it,” is, to say the least, a cop out, as I am positive many of these people wouldn’t dare use the homosexual slur “faggot” although some homosexuals use the word within their community.
Furthermore, there are a number of people involved in the publishing of a magazine. This copy is something that was undoubtedly seen by several editors, layout people, etc. The ‘ol “oops it slipped through my fingers” non-excuse is a little insulting because, if we’re going to believe that the Editor in Chief was unaware of the situation, that means all the other people who saw this didn’t care, or worse, just see us as a bunch of “niggabitches” anyway.
But at the end of the day, there is no way to use a loaded and offensive word and not mean to be offensive. Period. While I wish I could describe this as a teaching moment, these blatantly racist things happen so often, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before something equally racist and offensive happens again.
What say you? Do you think the writers and editors really didn’t see how this would offend anyone?