The words Dutch magazine Jackie used to describe Rihanna in their latest issue make the pop star’s racist altercation in Portugal this weekend almost seem harmless.
In a very crass description of the singer’s image, the author of the article writes:
She has street cred, she has a ghetto a** and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate n****b**** and displays that gladly, and for her that means: what’s on can come off. If that means she’ll be on stage half naked, then so be it. But Dutch winters aren’t like Jamaican ones, so pick a clothing style in which your daughter can resist minus ten. No to the big sunglasses and the pornheels, and yes to the tiger print, pink shizzle and everything that glitters. Now let’s hope she won’t beat anybody up at daycare.
Thankfully, readers were not shy about their disapproval of the article’s racial slur, and their reactions prompted the magazine’s editor-in-chief to issue an apology, writing on Facebook:
First: thanks for all your responses. We are of course very fed up over this and especially very shocked. However I’m glad that we’re engaging in a dialogue on this page — not everybody does that. Thanks for this. Other than that I can be brief about this: this should have never happened.Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was intended as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least. And that slipped through my, the editor-in-chief’s, fingers. Stupid, painful and sucks for all concerned. The author has been addressed on it, and now I can only ensure that these terms will no longer end up in the magazine. Furthermore I hope that you all believe there was absolutely no racist motive behind the choice of words. It was stupid, it was naive to think that this was an acceptable form of slang — you hear it all the time on tv and radio, then your idea of what is normal apparently shifts — but it was especially misguided: there was no malice behind it. We make our magazine with love, energy and enthusiasm, and it can sometimes happen that someone is out of line. And then you can only do one thing: apologize. And hope that others wish to accept it.
From the bottom of my heart I say it again: we never intended to offend anyone. And I mean that.
What a convenient slip. Regardless of what you think about Rihanna and her wild-child image, this article is beyond her. It speaks volumes to people’s attitudes about black women and their obliviousness to the inappropriateness of offensive language directed at us. The slang most likely slipped through the editor-in-chief’s fingers because it’s a term she has no problem applying to black women herself.
The article also exemplifies the reason black women police one another’s women’s images so much. Rihanna is not at fault for the racial slurs directed at her, but it’s a reminder of how black women are not allowed to be overly sexual or have a “bad girl” image without being racially and sexually targeted.
What do you think about the magazine publishing these words and backtracking? Do you think the editor-in-chief’s apology is sincere? Do you think this term is specific to Rihanna or perceptions of black women in general?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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