Aah, racism. One of those great topics. It is one of the things everyone thinks about when thinking about the USA. I know my mom was kind of scared about me moving to the US, because I would be ‘seen and treated as a foreigner’ (a statement which says a lot about suburban Europe too, for that matter).
I have seen and heard really weird things in the past months, but (thankfully) not experienced racism myself (being white in Texas helps, or I’m simply immune of recognizing being discriminated ). The topic has been kind of hot here the past weeks with Paula Deen being fired for admitting using the ‘N’ word at some not specified moment in time (for the Europeans reading this, the N-word is ‘Nigger’). I had a great chat with a Jewish girl at the bar last Sunday (bar is called ‘The Old Monk’, go visit is some time), and discussed it at the swimming pool earlier that day too with my neighbors.
The rules are not entirely clear to me, but apparently only very rich rappers, very poor black people, Chris Rock and southern state republican politicians can call people niggers. Other people are to shut up in public and only use the ‘N’-word in select liberal-free groups, using it with the same enjoyment a 20-year old uses his fake ID around here to get alcohol (look at me mommy, I’m doing something I’m not supposed to do!). The public life here is so focused on not using insulting words, and so focused not to insult groups, religions or whatever that it has become kind of ridiculous in some cases.
I’m giving some examples from the entertainment industry:
David Getta’s the 2009 summer hit ‘Sexy Bitch’ is called ‘Sexy Chick’ in the US. Ok, fine it kind of kills the ‘fun’ from the title, but even worse they simply delete the word ‘whore’ from the lyrics which kind of makes the lyrics be… uhm… dumb.
She’s nothing like a girl you’ve ever seen before
Nothing you can compare to your neighborhood
I’m try’n find the words to describe this girl
Without being disrespectful
Nothing you can compare to your ‘neighborhood’? What does that even mean?
For those who care: Sexy Chick – US Version
and this: Sexy Bitch – EU version. In my little mind there is nothing insulting about the lyrics in the EU version.
The same holds for the somewhat more recent F**king Problems. I did not hear or see it on radio or tv yet (it’d be acoustic if they had to sensor this stuff), but when you go out to cafe’s/clubs the crowd goes wild and sings along. (Hip-Hop is extremely popular here, to a point it almost drives me insane!).
Those who have seen the movie ‘Machete’ in Europe, know there is a certain scene in the beginning of the movie where a cellphone ‘appears’ on screen. That screen has been cut from the US version. Why? Artistic freedoms anyone? Now it looks like there is an error in the movie, while censorship actually cut the scene.
I’m looking forward to the day that the USA is going to realize you aren’t going to get rid of racism by censoring ‘insulting’ words from tv and radio. Just let go, give the people the freedom to say what they want. Everyone should have the right to be an ignorant racist and be called out for it in public. And fucking stop niggerin’ up music and movies in the same way only countries like China, Iran, North Korea and the like do. Does the greatest country on earth and exporter of freedom and democracy really want to be on that list?
There is a lot more to discuss on this topic, and I am sure I will in the next years. I notice a lot of hurt, huge gaps, and frustration.
PS: Some people have asked me about my nickname ‘Niggy’. I can assure everyone that this nickname is just a combination of my name enriched with a cute ‘y’, as used by one of my fellow students in high-school during one of our group projects. Has nothing to do with the N-word.