CNN recently aired a public interest story about a 103-year-old Pennsylvania woman who still drives. I know what you’re thinking. The only possibly jam to play for such a story is Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage!” CNN thought so, too. Unfortunately, the producers didn’t grab a radio-edit of the song so Coolio’s line about “punk-ass niggas set trippin’” made it out on the air.

CNN apologized for airing the offending lyric. Now on the one hand, I think it’s complete appropriate for them to apologize. “Nigga” is not necessarily appropriate for 10:30AM. Primetime? Shit yeah! On the other hand, I don’t think they really needed to apologize. I think it’s pretty clear that CNN was not calling the woman a nigger. Sure, it’s a little surprising to hear Coolio on the air again after all these years so maybe they were apologizing for that. But the jam was appropriate for the segment and I think a majority of the people watching at 10:30AM would understand that.

Nigga, nigger, N-Word, or whatever variation is out there fascinates me. It’s one of the few slurs that I hear on a regular basis (I listen to a lot of Hip Hop). Black people can call each other nigga with no worries. But if someone who’s not Black tries to use it, instantly it becomes racist. I don’t think there’s any other racial slur quite like it. I mean, it would be totally weird and fucked up if I went around calling fellow Asians Chink, Jap, Gook, Flip, slant, slope, or anything like that. I’ve never heard Latinos refer to each other as Spics. I don’t get it.

I’ve heard the argument that Black people use it as a term of endearment to sort of reclaim the word and flip its negative connotations. But if that’s really true, then why can’t anyone who’s not Black use the word without being called racist?

Anyway, I’m actually more surprised that CNN producers were hip enough to choose the song than the fact that they grabbed a non-radio edit. So go on CNN, play some more tasty jams from the 90′s!

  • Ed ‘shadebug’ Denison

    I’m not sure if it’s because I’m British or because I grew up in an environment with pretty much zero racial tension but I see it pretty differently. As a half-Colombian I’m happy to refer to my people as spics but that’s probably because there’s no significant latino presence in Britain and even if there were, we’re pretty much white guys who tan easy so it’s not exactly noticeable with the massive Caribbean and Southern Asian communities. Heck, on ethnic profiling forms I have to put myself down as White (Other) because Latino just doesn’t come into it.

    But I digress.

    I used to share a house with three second generation Pakistanis when I was in university. Around them, Pakistanis were referred to as Pakis, which you may or may not know is the Brown equivalent of the N-Bomb in Britain. With them, however, it was fine since they were using it and I was essentially one of them. When I was then having a conversation back home I prefaced something by saying “I live with three pakis”, at which point the conversation stopped. Clearly I’d committed a great slight against a race that wasn’t represented in the room and I explained it away as best I could but there was an air of disbelief about it anyway.

    So I think it’s not so much an issue of race, as it is with intention. If you are black then you can safely assume that the N-word is not being used as a racial slur. If you’re not black though, you have to ensure that there’s a familiarity at play, that people understand that you have no ill will and you’re just speaking comfortably. This may not hold true Stateside, I couldn’t say. I’ve got a feeling the word doesn’t really get used here where racists probably use their own special words for the Black-Britons.

    So yeah, issues.

  • Minato
  • Jamie

    @Minato, “GINGER!!!!”

  • Minato

    HEY! Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger D:< !!!

  • Keysmash

    Since they would have to apologise for f— being aired, I think it’s just that they didn’t have the offencive language sticker on the program.
    I would love to knock 2-3 sylabules off a word ( jap and flip) cause I’m lazy, stupid rasists got there first.