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!