Saturday, February 5, 2022

Go India Arie (VS. Joe Rogan, Over Repeat Use of the N-Word)

So as mentioned previously, in this post from two days ago, artists like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell either gave ultimatums or explicitly asked their music to be pulled from Spotify.

We knew that India Arie also pulled her music, but at the time, she said Joe Rogan was "problematic for reasons other than COVID."

She made a video on Twitter, to clarify.

In a nutshell, India says that although she supports people pulling their music off Spotify over his anti-vax misinformation, her decision was based on what bothered her personally even more - his repeated use of the N-word - 24 times.

Now - note she that she said she fully supports his right to free speech, and she's not giving an ultimatum or asking others to boycott - she simply just asked for her own music to be pulled, as a personal choice, exercising her right to disagree and to freedom of speech/expression - over his repeated use of the N-word more than his anti-vax remarks.

She explained further that music artists only get paid 0.003% of the Spotify's profits for their music on Spotify, and Joe Rogan was given a $100-million contract for his podcasts, and that she no longer wanted any of the company profit from the sale of her music to go towards Joe's contract - so she asked them to take her off Spotify.

To be fair, considering he appeared to really listen to Neil Young and responded with what seemed like a sincere apology, that he didn't have to give -  because more people than ever subscribed to his broadcast to find out what all the fuss was about -  promising to include actual science experts on his show, as well as adding an advisory - I also listened to what Joe Rogan had to say in response to India Arie.

(FYI, I always try to listen to what both sides have to say for myself in full anyway, rather than trusting anyone's subjective interpretation of what was said or events ;)

Basically, this time, he responded with an "apology" - that really wasn't ...


 In fact, I turned it off after about a minute, because he was all over the board, contradicting himself - he just doesn't get it.

Because first, he says use of the word was taken out of context.

Then he says "There's no context in which a white person should ever use that word." 

Then he goes back on it again, to semi-defend himself again, by saying he was often quoting Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, or discussing usage of the word. 

Erm - again, you are not black, Joe - and these comedians are.

Secondly, in some of those clips, the context was actually that he was defending using the word, in certain circumstances, i.e. when quoting someone else or like Quentin Tarantino's scripts (which actually were a bone of contention and the subject of controversy in the black community).

IMO, people of color shouldn't even be using that word for each other, either, at this point (especially considering house slaves sometimes referred to field slaves with this derogatory term), because the word brings back a lot of pain, for a lot of people - but white people should definitely never use this word, in any context, because they were the originators of this derogatory term, based on the color of your skin alone, and it's a painful reminder.

Additionally, upon researching further this supposed "missing context," it appeared to me that most of this "missing context" was actually what he's doing now - still trying to semi-justify use of the word in certain circumstances - though there IS no justification for using the full word.

These points that Joe Rogan argues are coming from a place of ignorance and white privilege, he doesn't get it - and it doesn't appear that he really wants to, so it's not likely that he will ever get it.

He also says that he now understands never to use the word, and hasn't in several years.

Erm - I was taught from birth, from my mom (who isn't exactly the most woke person, she's pretty racially clueless - but this one, she was right on) never to use the word and never have.

(I've since used lots of other words, my mother told me not to use lol - but I honest-to-God have never in my life said the full N-word.)

Because I was taught that it was the most demeaning, disgusting, hateful, arrogant word in the English language and reminded everybody of slavery (which I wasn't actually fully educated on until later).

Now - I'm one year younger than Joe, initially raised in white-privileged suburban Cincinnati, and later in Kentucky, by a racist father and a racially clueless mother.

If even I understood why, as a white person, never to use this word in any context - how is it that you didn't know, Joe?

Also, why were you ever, at any time, defending use of the word instead of trying to help get rid of its use?

My racist dad said it, often, and in fact, I remember some neighborhood friends offering me money to say the word, and I refused.

Now - generally, I tend not to feel that most words are "bad," unless they're an insult -  but even with those, different English cultures place varying weights on these words.

For instance, in the UK, a "sod" is a mild insult, usually accompanied by a the word "poor" before it - i.e. "the poor sod,"  to  make it sound like empathy, but it's actually an insult.

For Americans, this phrase is used a bit like  "bless his heart" is said here, in the American South, about a clueless person, to sound like empathy, to cover an actual insult.

Regardless, the word "sod" means nothing at all, here in America, except soil lol.  

Also, "bloody " is a mildly bad word in the UK (more just rude/crass), but the word has no meaning here in America at all. 

Also, the F word carries less weight in the UK, than it does in America, it's not considered as offensive, because there are worse "swear" words you could say in the UK.

Even in America, we can't agree - some Americans consider "crap" a bad word, others don't.

I avoid certain words out of personal taste/distaste preference, and to be appropriate and respectful, but I largely think it's stupid to label simple words, which exist to communicate and express, as either "bad" or "good."

HOWEVER, the N-word is the exception.

Though we may find other words personally distasteful, crass, or inappropriate -  IMO, the N-word is the only truly "bad" word in the English language., because of its origin and history.

 In fact, though I often give people more of the benefit of the doubt much longer than I should, if a white person ever uses the N-word, in any context, that's all the information I need to immediately know that they have a truly selfish, greedy, ugly soul, and I want nothing more to do with them.

There is no appropriate situation or context for that word, it's always insulting, and it always stops dead further conversation, in an uncomfortable silence, as if someone dropped a bomb in the room.

So to me, though I find other words personally distasteful, only the N-word is truly a "bad" word in the English language - truly disgusting and offensive, and I cringe any time that anyone uses it, white or black.

Now - before I come off sounding like some kind of self-righteous saint for refusing to ever in my life say the N-word, even when the neighborhood kids offered to paid me   - I still was initially raised in a place of ignorant, white privilege and implicit racial bias.

So what I did do, unfortunately, was after sneaking and watching "Roots," being horrified and profoundly affected by it - later, at age 10, my friend and I recreated in pretend play some scenes from "Roots"  - in Afro wigs and blackface :(

I know, right?

In my 10-year-old mind, I was trying to empathize and identify with the characters in Roots, and only later, did I understand that there is  no context in which blackface is okay - none - even if you think you're trying to empathize and help people of color.

Because the truth is, when you, as a white person, say the N-word or dress in blackface, regardless of the context or your intent - they're not hearing another word you said - because they're in pain, from an old deep wound - as if someone just punched them in the stomach.

I had forgotten about this, until about 5 years ago, this friend showed me a picture of us - and I was horrified.  

The picture looks especially bad, because my character looked really angry at my friend's character, though both of us were in black face and wigs.

Trying to remember the context, I think  that I had also since read "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and we were sort of mixing the two stories for our play story, trying to depict how we thought house slaves treating field slaves like lesser beings wasn't helping the situation,  that they should be in unity - as if that situation was simple to sort out.

Yes, I know - again - no.

I had no true idea, at that point, of the complexities of  that dynamic, what people had to do, trying to survive, especially because of skin color - so I had no business doing this, and I didn't get it (until later).

Though no one saw this re-enactment but the two of us and her mom, who took the picture - and I know she knew why we'd done it and she'd never show the picture to anyone else (because it makes her look just as bad as me)  - I felt horrible :(

So I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize for that - I'm so sorry for any pain or perpetuation of the problem that could've caused -  just know that I'm ashamed of it.

Though there is no defense, just to explain, just know that at the time -  in my 10-year-old mind - I cluelessly imagined that combined private play of "Roots" and "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was coming from a place of deep respect and empathy.

Lastly, also just know that I know better now, why it's still painful, regardless of intent or context, and would never do that again -  and that I still learning, working daily to look for and rid myself of any residual residual white-privilege/implicit racial bias ignorance :(

Nevertheless, we all are a product of an institutionalized system of implicit racial bias and have more to learn.

However - the difference is what we do after we understand how much pain it brings others. 

The first group is those of us who, after understanding why it causes pain,  now understand, apologize, and are now "woke" - we truly feel remorse and would never do it again.

Then there are people who know these things bring of pain to others, they just don't care - because their right to "free speech" is more important (unless it affects their following/paycheck ;)

Which group are you in? 

Unfortunately for Joe Rogan, his explanation dips in and out of both categories, but appears to ultimately fall in the latter group.

Because above all, it's become clear that  Joe Rogan will do what's best for Joe Rogan, his wallet, and his fight to stay relevant, after his one-hit wonder supporting-cast TV role in the 1990s, and a UFC announcer -  regardless of the pain and/or loss of life it has brought to others. 

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