Not too long ago, Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez posted a video of herself online, singing along to one of Lauryn Hill’s verses in the song ‘Ready or Not’ by the Fugees. This was posted for her 4 million followers to see. Within the swiftly deleted clip, Gina Rodriguez sings the N word.
This word is a racial slur. Furthermore, her apology that followed also raised questions over its sincerity. This event, on one level draws attention to Gina Rodriguez’s history, having been numerously accused of making anti-black remarks, whilst also highlighting a pivotal, more widespread issue with regards to the use of this word, both within the music industry and indeed society.
Her initial apology, a video of a similar format, arguably appeared insincere. “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” seems to suggest offence as a possibility rather than a guaranteed consequence of her actions. This being said, she did go on to post a written apology on the same platform. Rodriguez stated “the word I sang, carries with it a legacy of hurt and pain that I cannot even imagine”. The scandal has reached further platforms, having been discussed on many news and talk shows within the United States.
The word should not be readily used in our vocabulary
Indeed, to understand this issue from all angles, it’s crucial to consider the root and history of this word.
The word is a racial and ethnic slur, and has been used in derogatory terms towards black people, particularly in the United States from the mid-20th century. Historically, the word was used during and associated with racial violence, lynching, discrimination, verbal abuse and even slavery. This is not to say that the word is not still used now however.
So, there are also questions raised around the use of the word in music, and particularly rap. Do artists have a responsibility to eliminate the use of this word in the first place? Or is it the right of black people to reclaim this word from its deeply racist origins? The debate makes this a vital social issue rather than merely a celebrity blunder.
The word should not be readily used in our vocabulary. It should, by absolutely no means, be a go-to insult. We should consider why this has happened. It’s 2019.
Last modified: 6th November 2019