“It’s All About The Context:” Ciara Defends Use Of The N-Word On Access Hollywood

June 26, 2013  |  

Pop star, Ciara, made her way to Access Hollywood LIVE this week and was asked to give her to give her opinion on the use of the N-word by the show’s co-host Billy Bush since it’s used in Ciara’s new song, “I’m Out.” Here’s what she said:

“As an entertainer you have fun and it’s all about the context it’s used in. I am an African-American woman, so I can identify with that word in different ways. It’s all about the context and in my case I know I can have fun because I know where I’m coming from with it. You have to be light-hearted and it has to be in a certain way. I cannot hear another person of another race saying, ‘you this’ like ‘you that.’ Again, it’s all about how you say it and what context it’s used in…”

The singer, seemed to be very conflicted in her defense of using the derogatory term as she seemed to ramble a bit in her explanation of using the word:

“That word has as much power as you give it. That word is so old that it references the context of where it comes from. I want to make sure I’m clear about that, it doesn’t mean that same thing that it could have meant years ago, especially when we can have fun about it. I’m all about empowering women, I’m all about empowering myself. As a human being, I would never use any word that would be degrading to myself… or to anyone else.”

It is no secret that a great many African American hip hop and R&B stars use the term in their music which is beyond baffling to the segment of the population who are not “allowed” to say it openly. Many have embraced it as a term of endearment within the Black community, not unlike the point that Ciara was trying to make.

This makes for an ever-growing divide within the Black community as many of our celebrities who once used the N-word abundantly have ceased to use it and speak against its negative effects on our people. The late legendary comedian, Richard Pryor, whose popular standup performance “The N-Word” he used as his platform to renounce the word and the hurt that it causes his people.

Comedian Paul Mooney followed in Pryor’s footsteps many years later after “Seinfeld” actor, Michael Richards’ racist meltdown.

What do you think of people of color using the N-word? Do you agree with Ciara’s stance or do you relate more with Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney? Do you think there would ever come a time when we can reach some sort of consensus on the word as a race?

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  • Guest360

    Wow….you really are mad, huh? You might want to step away from the computer and get back to real life. As I’ve said to others like yourself, if you can’t respond to me with respect, then don’t respond to me at all. I’m all for disagreeing. I live for debate. But I will not put up with disrespect. Good day and God speed. I refuse to respond to foolishness.

  • MsLadyE

    Using the N-word (whether you’re black, white, green, or whatever) is FLAT-OUT WRONG. Period.

  • Fair and Balanced

    Ignorance is ignorance and Ciara is just as ignorant as Paula Deen for using the word. There is no justification for it and she appears as idiotic as anyone else who attempts to justify it regardless of color or race.

  • get real

    As a matter of fact Al Sharpton, Ciara, Stacey Dash, Roland Martin, That black pastor (and every other black person that is somewhat defending her along with you “we can’t get mad at them if we say it zombies)go work in her kitchen and let her call you every N in the book.

  • get real

    As a matter of fact Al Sharpton, Ciara, Stacey Dash, Roland Martin, That black pastor (and every other black person that is somewhat defending her along with you “we can’t get mad at them if we say it zombies)go work in her kitchen and let her call you every N in the book.

    • Guest360

      For you to say that Roland Martin is DEFENDING Paula in the use of the word shows how ignorant you really are. Half the people you named are of the mindset that NO ONE should be saying this word. But if you’re going to get mad at Paula, why not get mad at Kanye? At Jay-Z? But oh. Only “certain” people are allowed to degrade our culture and our people. THAT is what most of the people you named are fighting against. But of course, you’d rather over look the obvious in favor of what I will never know.

      • get real

        Funny that non of them said a single negative word about Paula Deen . Noticed that? Roland went on a dumb white washed tirade about “why are we mad at her, I mean we use it” just like you are doing.. When white people use it comes from Jim Crow, them being superior, etc. So stop playing dumb. Besides rappers are controlled by the whites that own these record labels. Do you think a rapper is not going to say the N word if a record executive gives them a contract? Ever seen a interview from positive conscious rappers? And how they talk about these records labels won’t support or give them a deal because they aren’t using the N word and talking about killing, selling dope and thugging? Attacking rappers only show that you are the ignorant one here. These are doing what the labels what them to do. And I don’t think that you would turn a 5 million recording contract to not say the N word. You would be inline with other rapper.

  • get real

    I must have missed the Million Koon March or something??? What is wrong with black people?? There’s is so much kooning and bed wenching going out here that it ain’t funny. “Context my arse”. Some of yall black people are going to get white people hurt by telling them all of this “ok, if you say it ” “it’s only a word’ “it’s all about context” i know you didn’t mean it in a harmful way etc. What context could it be if white people uses it? Getting his or her “wigger on” around you or other blacks? Which is just as worse.

  • Guest360

    No one should be using it. I honestly have to give major side eye to anyone who tries to justify the use of the word based on CONTEXT. Seriously? I don’t believe my ancestors cared about context when the word was used to make them feel inferior. But that’s just me. Continue to live in an air of ignorance if you want but that won’t be me.

  • Chassie

    Why was she asked this seriously? She’s certainly not the first person to have it in her song. And frankly, if you’re fighting so hard to say it, white person, then clearly it has little to do with equality and everything to do with degradation. Let’s imagine magical fairy land where no one was refusing you the right to say the word, white people. Please tell me in what context would you deem it necessary to use it? Please tell me why, with the abundance of words in the English language, you searched for the derogatory way to say something. And somebody PLEASE tell me who was checking for a Ciara interview? All she ever talks about are her mushmouth man and how Rihanna hurt her feelings. And yes, the shade was very much intended.

    • get real

      As you can see the white media is sticking microphones in every black person that they can find and ask them these questions about the N word. Notice they aren’t trying that with “real N’s’. Black people are so scary to keep it real nowadays that they are going to answer these questions the way white people want them to.

    • Brittany

      If White people have an abundance of words to choose from in the English language, then why don’t Black people find another word to use as well? If a White person wants to use the word to mean “my man” or “ace” – some of us would be angry, but yet some of us feel the only way to convey this sentiment is by using the N word ourselves. If a Black person uses this word in everyday speech, then I feel they have no right to get mad at a White person for using it, no matter the context. It’s hypocritical and ignorant. We can’t refuse anyone the right to say anything they want, so if the Black folks who use it want to continue using it, they can’t tell someone else what NOT to say either – because I’m just as offended when I hear a person of color using the word as I am hearing a White person saying it.

      • Guest360

        Thank you! That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m not exactly sure why “some” whites are needing to say this word anymore than I am some blacks who are trying their hardest to make this word mean something it simply does not. Fair is fair. If I’m going to go after a white person for using it, I’m sure as hell am going after a black person because we should know better. My ancestors did not fight and in some cases die for me to remain ignorant about my history. I look at it this way. If you can’t in good conscience say this to your grandma, your mom, your aunts, etc, chances are it’s not a word you should be saying anyway.

      • Chassie

        First, I don’t use the word. That’s a fact. Second, the thing is, I made no mention of the question of “hypocrisy” because I’m not concerned with the hypocrisy. I’m concerned with the desire, a desire i believe is much deeper than “because they can do it!” Funny how whites only cite black influence when they get in trouble. Any other time, they thought it up all on their own. Let’s keep it 100- the use of the word by Blacks is not the real reason whites want to use the word. Let’s say all black people were allowed to stone someone to death in the square everyday. Then a white person protests that if black people can do it, so can he. I do not care what black people are doing, because I already think it’s wrong. What I am terrified of is the person who actively fights for the right to stone someone to death- that’s the monster, that’s the problem I’m concerned with. I am sick of the “but they do it too” defense in every situation. No one is talking about “they,”we talking about “you.” And it doesn’t make it any more right because others do it.

  • Ms. Kameria

    Welp, maybe Paula will buy Ciara’s album, and Ciara will buy Paula’s cookware….

    No on else is.

  • CC

    Very controversial!!! Honestly I agree with Ciara to an extent and yes there is a certain context that most black people use it in that is to acknowledge their “brother”. I have heard black people call a white person the n word as if to say this is my “ace”. Now some people who have failed to do their research on the term whereas they are referring to the old slang word meaning “a colored person”. Well back then they called the colored people the n word because they were ignorant enough to let them. The n word stemming from this era was different, it was spelled ending in “er”. The term they use today has evolved within the black community with an urban spelling, an “a” at the end, meaning my “ace”, “brother”, “family”, etc. Also, there has been an evolutionary context of the word spelled the same way of the latter term but with a more derogatory context, “an invalid character” as I would put it. I’ve heard other races being called the n word with an a at the end but of course the person usually means he/she is less of a person. I personally do not find the word offensive if it is used in the context to say “this is my friend”. I will admit I have used it to speak of someone as ill-mannered but I feel when throwing this word around there’s a time and place for it.

    Using the n word is a very controversial subject because everybody has their own definition and context as to how it’s used. Whatever your opinion is, if you don’t want to disrespect anyone just be careful of who you say it around, and if you say it, how you use it. If you are offended by someone else’s choice to use it, just remember that they have the right to feel offended that you don’t respect their right to use the word as they wish too. That’s just the world that we live in and whether we like it or not. Sad but true. JMO

  • MissRealuminatti

    We shouldn’t say the word because it makes us look ignorant. But, regardless whites should not use that word at all.

    • hernan cortez

      I’d take it one step further, we ought boycott and label as a self hating racist any black who uses this term as a routine in media. And the reason is simple, Ciara would not walk out that door alive if she said the k-word for jews.

  • kierah

    I do not use the word. I can understand other Black people’s point of view on using it, but I choose to abstain. My husband’s friends use the word (and I’m suspect my husband uses it when I’m not around although he claims not to), but they don’t use it around me anymore. I will leave their presence. If that is how you choose to define yourself, that’s your business. However I reserve the right to be respected by White and Black people. I don’t allow people to call me out of my name.

  • Sunshinegirl

    I can somewhat agree with her about the context in which the word is used although I very rarely, if at all, use it myself. I may use it if I’m singing along with a song or something like that. I don’t have the type of interactions with people that I’m around that would even make the casual use of the word OK. I just don’t like the way it sounds coming out of my mouth knowing the struggle and adversity that Black people have faced. Now, Paula, Paula…. I truly don’t believe that she’s racist, but she said the “n-word” then and still says it now because she thinks it’s okay. She doesn’t know any different. She thinks that growing up in an era where the word was commonly used gives her a pass to continue saying it. Unfortunately, this is 2013, and it’s no longer acceptable, mainstream, by most people. It is somewhat of a double standard, though, that Black people can use it as a term of embracing their fellow man. Things that make you go hmmmm…..

  • JMO

    No. Wrong is wrong. The word shouldn’t be used period. However, I will admit that I use it. Does that make using it right? No. I’m just as wrong as Paula. Now I would never use it in public or at work but regardless my use is just as wrong. I hate when ppl try to justify why something is right because they do it too.

    • MissRealuminatti

      The only difference between you and Paula is that you were not using it to degrade another human being.

      • Guest360

        How do you know they werent using it to degrade another human being? Especially if they’ve already said how they’ve used the word is just as bad as Paula’s use of the word.

        • MissRealuminatti

          When most blacks say the word they use it in exchange with “dude” or “man” or whatever. It’s just slang with no ill intentions. When people like Paula uses the word it is a way to make blacks be the butt of the joke and to view them as something inferior. Let’s not play semantics!

          • Guest360

            I’m not talking about “most”. I’m talking about the person you responded to. JMO specifically said that their using it is no different than Paula using it so how can YOU determine whether or not they used it to degrade another person or not? Unless you know JMO, it’s best you not speak for them.

            And I’ve been around enough black people to know that not everyone is using it as “dude” or “man”. There are many who use it to degrade other black people. And it’s hard not to play semantics when you’ve got people such as yourself clamoring to try to make this word mean something it simply doesn’t. It is NOT a term of endearment or everyone would be able to say it regardless of context. Paula wouldn’t be getting her a$$ handed to her over a word “we took back and made into something positive”. Argue semantics all you want. It means what it means and to suggest otherwise is just plain ignorance.

            • MissRealuminatti

              As a black person, I know first hand that most blacks do use the word as slang. I prefer to not use the word because people like you start to think it’s okay to say it. Paula admitted herself that she did not use it as a term of endearment. She used the word when she was upset at a black man that robbed her bank. She also admitted making black jokes and then said she’s not sure what offends people. lol Do you have a problem when Mexicans make fun of other Mexicans or Asians that make fun of their culture? I have heard gay people refer to each other as a “fagg” and other derogatory terms but I always knew better to ever call a gay person, Asian, or Latino a racist or hateful name. Just like a man cannot call a woman a “bytch” but us females playfully refer to each other as the b-word.

  • MM82

    I’ll never accept a white person saying it regardless of the context. I have used the word , I don’t use it a lot but its not something I say in public at all.

    • LadiesNight

      Even if it’s something you DON’T use often or in public,you SHOULDN’T be saying the word period. I have NEVER said the “N” word or the one with the “er” because it comes from a negative place,so why use it? Ignorant people such as yourself need to stop saying the word altogether.

      • MM82

        It’s a word that brings out a lot of emotions out of people. I never said it was right to use the word, but amongst close family and friends I have. I’ve used it to describe people that I didn’t believe deserved my respect, such as people who attack other people personal views on blogs such as LadiesNight. N -words generally don’t understand the difference between disagreeing with a person and attacking a person.

      • Drew

        Wait — which deity are you again??? [ENTER PAUSE HERE] So… you’re NOT a deity? [ENTER ANOTHER PAUSE HERE] So… you have exactly ZERO authority to tell someone what they should, or shouldn’t be saying? Interesting. Sit your narrow tail down somewhere.

    • hernan cortez

      You may find yourself in a position where you have no power to influence that. When you have so many blacks in entertainment PUSHING the active use of the n-word and DEFENDING whites who use the n-word it may just end up in a place where whites can get away with it. When you are putting out a song like my n-word and hot n-word and marketing it to whites what do you think is going to be the logical outcome.