After liberally using the word on the set of Community, the former movie star declared that he was given permission by Richard Pryor to use it. Did Pryor specifically mean it was alright for Chase to use it in the context of a satirical SNL sketch they did together in 1975?  We’re never to know, as Pryor was rude enough to die six years before Chase made the claim. Regardless, one black person speaks for all black people, so minorities should check the club memo before getting pissy at Hollywood treasures such as Chevy Chase. At the end of the day, it’s just a word, right? Yes it’s forever marred by bigotry and is still frequently used as a hateful attack, but sticks and stones.


Chetty-Chetty Bang Bang.

Chetty-Chetty Bang Bang.

The son of Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson defended his use of the word by saying “it’s how I felt at the time”. Is that not a equitable claim? If 1988’s Big taught us anything, it’s that it’s important to be yourself, so it seems unfair to applaud Tom and condemn Chet for making the exact same point. Chet went on to explain that “it’s a word that unifies the culture of hip-hop across all races”. Therefore it’s alright for anyone who sings hip-hop to say it, just as it’s alright for civilians who sing army songs to declare martial law. And yes, Chet does acknowledge that the word used to be bad, but he hasn’t had too much direct exposure to that stuff so just be chill, yeah?


AxlDefending his use of the word amidst some Guns ’n’ Roses lyrics, Axl explained the song One in a Million was about “a large number of black men” that he saw hustling people in a parking lot. He went on to clarify “I don’t like boundaries of any kind. I don’t like being told what I can and can’t say. I used the word n****r because it’s a word to describe somebody that is basically a pain in your life, a problem. The word n****r doesn’t necessarily mean black”.

So to surmise, it was appropriate for Axl to use the word because a) FUCK YOU, he’s Axl Rose, nobody tells Axl Rose what to do, and b) lyrical master that he is, he was using the word as a METAPHOR for something he didn’t like, which, in this instance, just happened to be black people.


"My Mum says I'm actually cooler than Hendrix! A-hyuck!"

“My Mamma says I’m actually now cooler than Jim Hendrix! A-hyuck-hyuck-hyuck!”

John Mayer declared in an interview that black people love him so much that he has a “n****r pass”. Questions abound… is the pass a physical thing, like a permit? Is it laminated, or would laminating it be too white? Does he keep it on his person at all times? If he’s left it at home, can he still drop the n-bomb without it or will doing so incur a fine? It remains a mystery.


Pictured: not actually your Dad, but I couldn’t find a good photo of all your Dads together.

Pictured: not actually your Dad, but I couldn’t find a decent pic of all your Dads together.

Look, the word just wasn’t such a big deal back in the day. Your Dad could say it all the time, and your Dad’s not racist. There was even a footballer openly nicknamed “N****r Brown”. And he was white! That’s how cool everyone was back then! No one batted an eye that a white man was jokingly referred to by a pejorative word coined for people who were beaten and murdered and enslaved but were then emancipated and eventually allowed to vote AND THAT WAS THE END OF RACISM, for gosh sake, so get over it. Stop being so sensitive. It’s just a word.

Fabian Lapham is definitely caucasian enough to enjoy white privilege but juuuuuust ethnic-looking enough to never be cast in an Australian TV commercial. He has more articles here and here

© Fabian Lapham 2015

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