On Friday, I was commenting on a friend’s post of a Wale track featuring Rick Ross, from the DMV artist’s new album, Ambition. I noticed that the track played, with better rhymes, like Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Niggas in Paris’. A track name that I had noticed from the get go, and I knew would present at least mild awkwardness later in life, mostly because- I love it.
Jay-Z and Kanye West:
I certainly hope that I didn’t offend with writing the actual title out. But it got me thinking if I was being too familiar….. So now I’m blogging about it?
Is it too familiar to wonder out loud? (Though you may ask yourself seriously why are you on this blog?) Is this a basis of internalized white guilt and/or anti-black racism? The issue certainly isn’t new-
Non-black confusion can sometimes be confusing and almost amusing in its obtuseness:
It’s sobering to realize that there’s a lot of seriousness that we are still in the midst of though:
In my case, we have a song named ‘Niggas in Paris’. Is the motivation from West and Jay specifically to make the rest of us feel at best, lame and too familiar, at worst, incredibly awkward and guilty? I remember that this was a controversy around Nas’ album that went on to be untitled. It’s one thing to try to omit the word when you recite lyrics back to yourself in your car, but really? ‘N-words in Paris’ doesn’t sound like you’re a more understanding person.
I’m not going to blame the artists, and don’t want to sound like I am, rather than thank them for a good track, but there are obviously some related concerns.
I remember days in undergrad having conversations with South Asians about not calling each other ‘nigga,’ when our black friends weren’t around. Or not referring to black people as ‘kalus’ (black, in Hindi). Yes, perhaps we’ve gotten over the fact that ‘black’ is within the realm of PC, but there’s a reason (hint: it’s derogatory) that you just switched to Hindi.
Yet, for me, and many non-black progressives, I have a different backstop to be mindful of. We do have a shared humanity, and human experience, and it is positive to relate to others, and remove barriers. But don’t pretend like you can join every family. Referring to my last post, there was legitimacy when Congressman Clay said that Steve Cohen would have to change his skin color to join the Congressional Black Caucus. It was the rest of his rationale that I took exception with. We don’t share all experiences. Regardless of how many black friends you have.