The problem with normalizing the N-word
Gina Rodriguez is the newest addition to the list of "canceled" celebrities after she uploaded an Instagram post in which she pronounces the N-word as she sings along to "Ready or Not" by The Fugees.
After seeing the explosive outrage by fans on Twitter, Rodriguez took down the initial video and posted another video, this time attempting to apologize for the hurt she may have caused through her actions.
"I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to The Fugees, to a song I love, that I grew up on," Rodriguez claims.
Rodriguez's entire apology was unsatisfactory.
First, saying "if I offended anyone" is an unacceptable way of undermining the struggle victims of racism face by placing the blame on them for being angry. Secondly, Rodriguez, a prominent public figure, should be more conscious of what she posts for her 4.4 million followers —many of whom are young people who look up to the 35-year-old actress — regardless of her childhood traditions.
The debate right now among her fans is over whether to forgive her for singing along to one of her favorite childhood throwbacks or to condemn her career in order to send a message to celebrities to stop normalizing offensive racial slurs.
The problem with incidents such as these and the reason why we can't just "let it slide" is the same reason that people are willing to forgive her: incidents such as these aren't shocking anymore.
Lindsay Lohan, Madonna, John Mayer, and Eminem are also just a few of the many non-African American celebrities who have been criticized for casually integrating the N-word into their vocabulary.
We may not realize it at first, but due to the actions of celebrities such as these, the term is spread everywhere by people who most certainly should not be saying it.
In my 80% white high school, I have heard the N-word almost as many times I have heard the popular teenage slang "lit" in the past year.
The kids that are uttering this slur aren't inherently racist or troubled kids either; they just think it is normal, and that normalization starts with the actions of public figures such as our beloved celebrities.
In American society, celebrities are considered icons that the common public should aspire to be.
Their entire job revolves around their public image and the reactions to their lives. They have crews of people educating them on their behavior and media teams guiding every aspect of their lives, so they can't feign ignorance on bad decisions such as these.
When these figures casually throw around loaded slang, impressionable teenagers feel that they can and should do the same.
To stop its spread and eventual commonality among youth, we need to "cancel" the celebrities that are intentionally or even unintentionally promoting it.
Just as we as consumers have the power to make celebrities famous, we have the power to take it away.
Of course, reprimanding Rodriguez for her mistake will not end racism or the use of racial slurs, but it is a crucial step to take to stop the normalization of these practices not only in our current society but for future generations as well.
Holding celebrities accountable is an easy price to pay for ameliorating American culture.
Reem Alharithi is a junior at West Linn High School.
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