Sigh. It’s only been about 2 days since the uber-famous Madonna using the N-word in an Instagram hashtag caused an online uproar. What was meant to honor her son’s hard work in boxing training was regaled with the unnecessary addition of#disnigga as the caption for the photo. I can’t even begin, though I’ve tried to grasp, how with her level of intelligence, often infused with impressive provocation and shattering of the cultural status quo, comprehended in her mind that writing something like that would not ilicit, fans or not, visceral responses. Oddly enough, she had posted an inspiring a vintage photo of the icon Muhammad Ali just a few days prior. I wonder what he would think of this?
For someone that’s promoted equal rights and love in her music and imagery, it just doesn’t gel with her past that while has been without a doubt a controversial legacy, a legacy that’s to be fair wasn’t non-insightful and disregardful. Madonna writing “#disnigga” and without hesitation pressing the post button, clearly couldn’t have cared less what anybody thought and for once, her usual taciturn take on presentation failed to earn her praise for leadership and originality. What Madonna had become was a follower of “trying to be cool”, “trying to be down”, and frankly, it was just tacky. For someone that has adopted two African children into her home to be raised along her bloodlines, this was also incredibly insensitive to their presence. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie would never pull a stunt like this in their multicultural abode, and Angelina for example has been as equally salacious in her own right. Do we believe Madonna is a racist at heart now? No. At least I don’t. Yet I remain baffled as to why she really thought that was remotely amusing. We went from personally choosing to have a Black Jesus in “Like A Prayer” to this 20+ years later? Did she forget about all of the too many racist occurrences that made headlines in 2013?
Her statement on the matter hardly lessened the lines of disgust as she somewhat dug her hole even deeper:
“I am sorry if I offended anyone with my use of the N word on Instagram. It was not meant as a racial slur. I am not a racist. There’s no way to defend the use of the word. It was all about intention… It was used as a term of endearment toward my son who is white. I appreciate that it’s a provocative word and I apologize if it gave people the wrong impression. Forgive me.”
“Term of endearment”? Let’s not even go there, because I’m just trying to make a quick point about my disappointment in Madonna, and the general implication of a white people using “nigga” in replacement of “love”, “hero”, or “friend”, deserves more than a blog post. It should be an essay and and an evasive look into this American phenomenon of which behind close doors or on social media, (sometimes in broad daylight in big cities), white individuals have gotten very comfortable with saying this word to each other. Even if in playful settings, and I don’t know who’s to blame. Plain ol’ ignorance? Jay Z and Kanye West blatantly naming their song “Niggas in Paris” (which got Gwyneth Paltrow in trouble when she referenced it, Google that faux pas)? We already have generations of African-Americans doing this, against fellow black people that believe it’s wrong to perpetuate. In this very own community, the battle of the N-word, is real. The blame game never helps, and in an attempt to be behave colorblind, maybe we’re overlooking that some situations remain inclusive for a reason.
Some could argue, that, “Well Madonna was all about the word ‘bitch’ for much of the ’90s…”, but evidently, while it’s a word that still stings when spewed in genuine hate and anger, “bitch” we’ve come to terms with. Women have healed the wounds and successfully redefined it for the sake of history. We still have yet to achieve this with “nigga” and who honestly feels like somebody when saying or hearing that word? It’s not about being perfect, and never having said it. In this matter and the reason why Madonna came under fire is because it’s about the person saying it, and we expected more than someone like Madonna despite her laundry list of shenanigans.
Have I started my mean spring cleaning of Madonna’s catalog from my iTunes? Nope. And I don’t intend on doing so–but–this one may be the most shocking stunt she’s pulled since I’ve known who she was, and I lived through her Erotica era. To Madonna, we know you’re better than this. Don’t taint your legacy with straight up stupid choices like this for hopeful fans that don’t know your contributions to popular culture, the wider discussions of feminism or even those songs beyond the ones you did with Justin Timberlake for those insipid collabs with Nicki Minaj. It’s so not worth it. We forgive you, but grow up.