Or, That Bitch Cray! by S.R. Torris
I’m not one for, “I told you so.” or “I just knew it!” because it means I was right about something that I didn’t want to be correct in the first place.
This particular case is the Jay-Z, Kanye West collaboration album, “Watch The Throne”. The moment I saw the track “Niggas In Paris” I let out a low exasperated sigh. Even though I like the music, even though I thought the track was catchy, the feeling of impending doom lurked at the base of my already throbbing skull.
“This doesn’t bode well,” I said to myself.
Who woulda thunk Gwyneth Paltrow would be the harbinger?
By now you’ve heard about the tweet sent ‘round the world. She was at the Jay-Z/Kanye West concert in France, took a picture of them onstage and tweeted: “Ni**as in Paris for real @mrteriusnash (the dream) tyty, beehigh”.
OK, seriously, Gwyneth? Don’t get your ass cut.
There were those who had an immediate negative response and Gwyneth retorted an innocent, “What? It’s the name of the song!” Yes, unfortunately, it is the name of the song…
She was tweeting singer/songwriter/producer, The Dream (who came to her defense), and I was ready to set this entirely at her feet because too many people play that coy, “I thought it was cool,” routine, especially those who should know better. Let us be honest for a moment, shall we? If Gwyneth saw Oprah Winfrey in Paris, and they were headed to the same Jay-Z/Kanye West after-party with Gail King and Tyler Perry, and she took a picture with all of them do you really think she would have tweeted it throughout the Twitterverse with the caption, “Ni**as in Paris for real”?
Gwyneth isn’t an 18 year-old Justin Bieber or any of the other kids in his generation. Whether African-American, Italian-American, Asian-American et al, they rock street style that has been fused with skateboard swag, rock-n-roll chic and call themselves “niggas” on a regular basis. She isn’t a 39 year-old woman who came from “The Hood” and grew up speaking its language while going through the things that make you strong enough to survive “The Hood”; “nigga” is thrown around a lot there too. Gwyneth Paltrow is a 39 year-old white woman born of privilege. I do not begrudge her privilege nor should she assume because she has it, she’s immune to the real world and its consequences. She gets no Hood Pass because she’s cool with her husband’s friend, Jay-Z. She gets no Call-Me-A-Nigga-And-It’s-Cool Card because her privilege allows her to shmooze with Kanye West. Kim and Chloe Kardashian have more “Hood Cred” than she does and so far, we’ve heard nothing like this from either of them. Eminem is a rapper, who happens to be white, with a bunch of songs under his belt and none them have “nigger”, “nigga”, “niggas”, “niggaz” or otherwise, and Em’s mentor is Dr. Dre, an original member of the notorious rap group N.W.A – Niggaz With Attitude.
And who’s giving Gwyneth Paltrow a Hood Pass anyway? The Dream? Kanye West? Beyoncé? Jay-Z? When’s the last time any of them have been to The Hood? She gets onstage with Ceelo Green and she’s supposed to get automatic cool points?
But Gwyneth isn’t the only one to blame. When discussing this with a couple of friends they bottom-lined it for me, “If you don’t want people saying it, don’t make a song called ‘Niggas In Paris’!” – period.
I am aware many have tried to take this word and the rape, sodomy, lynching, theft, lies, debasement, bullying, sorrow, rage, bitterness, betrayal, and overall history that goes with it, and make it cool – nothing but a thang. I get it. However, not everyone is on board with that plan. Those of you who think it’s OK calling each other “niggas” and allowing others to call you “niggas”, give permissions you don’t have the right to. There are some who fought and sacrificed so they and their progeny would never be called “nigger” in any alliteration, again. Dismissing this, like The Dream, Touré, and Russell Simmons did in their defense of Gwyneth Paltrow, is tantamount to a giant loogie in the face.
African-Americans give “that word” too much power?! I would implore Gwyneth’s aforementioned defenders to walk into a kosher deli and ask if a “kike” could serve them up a nice bagel and lox, maybe a pastrami sandwich. Or perhaps they could look for the nearest Italian eatery and ask to be served by a “dago”, “wop” or “guinea” greaseball while the “spics” in the back wash the dishes, then let’s see how the power of words unfold. There always seems to be a floating asterisk when it comes to African-Americans and “that word”; to be indignant is to be the angry Black person taking things way too seriously. Of course when applying this to Jewish people, they are considered stoic, brave, and admirable remembering the horrors of their past, which they will never allow to happen again – no matter what generation.
Gwyneth, you are right, it is the name of the song. But just because you were partying with some “niggas” in Paris (incidentally, were you including yourself under the umbrella of “nigga”?) who made you feel comfortable enough to tweet you were in Paris with said “niggas” – for real, doesn’t excuse you (or those “niggas” you were with) and stupidity of your actions. Direct Message The Dream next time, since he’s your “nigga”, and keep those who choose not to be a part of the facetiousness of the spoiled and clueless elite, out of your frivolous idiocies. And I understand the privileged don’t really have to be informed about the history of the stolen and huddled masses but it might do you some good to skim over a little of America’s past – particularly the stuff that involves, uh, “niggas”.
The irony within all of the brouhaha, is the “niggas” in Paris, outspoken as they are, Jay-Z and Kanye West have had nothing to say (as of the posting of this blog) with regard to Gwyneth’s tweet. Has her Hood Pass been revoked?
Now that sh*t cray!