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N-Word Use Denied, Chet Haze

“The way I see it, it’s a word that unifies the culture of Hip-Hop across ALL RACES, which is actually kind of a beautiful thing.” – Chet Haze

Rapper Chet Haze, the son of mega-movie star Tom Hanks, made the aforementioned statement in an Instagram post where he defended his “right” to use the controversial N-word.

If I say the word nigga I say it amongst people I love and who love me. If I say “fuck yall hatin ass niggaz” it’s because that’s really how I felt at the time. And I don’t accept society getting to decide what ANYBODY can or can’t say. That’s something we call FREE SPEECH. Now I understand the older generation who grew up in the Jim Crowe era might have strong feelings against this. And that’s understandable… But what I’m saying is this is 2015… And even tho we are still far from where we need to be and black people are still being literally KILLED by a RACIST and fucked up system… We have also reached a point where the word can no longer have a negative connotation if we so choose. And who is to say only black people can use it? The way I see it, it’s a word that unifies the culture of HIP-HOP across ALL RACES, which is actually kind of a beautiful thing. It’s a word that can be used out of camaraderie and love, not just exclusively for black people. What’s the point in putting all these built up “rules” about it. It’s time to let go. You can hate me or love me for it, but can’t nobody tell me what I can or can’t say. It’s got nothing to do with trying to be a thug. It’s about the culture of the music. And that’s all I have to say about that (no pun intended) lol. It’s all love. Some people will get it, some people won’t. Either way, Ima keep living my life however the fuck I want. ALL LOVE.

A video posted by LA / WORLD WIDE (@chethanx) on

The address comes after a string of social media uploads where the “White and Yellow” rapper and Northwestern University alum repeated use of the term gained heat and a wave of side-eyes. You may be thinking, here we go with this again. And I’m with you, but here is another opportunity to look at the newly defined “power” of such a loaded term with a history that resonates negatively in the Black community.

A term of endearment is how rapper Jay-Z views it, along with a majority of entertainers in the music business. The new ideology rests in taking back the power of the term and using it as a way to describe a friend or foe. However, the new use of the word comes with rules and restrictions.

A person of a different ethnicity can’t use the slur, unless there’s a mutual understanding within the group of friends or your coming-of-age lifestyle mirrors one where the term is a normal address, as 50 Cent recently explained in this interview.

Offense is taken when we see the word N—– typed out in all caps on a restaurant receipt, like this group of co-workers dining in New Orleans.

Within these two distinctions, the term is used as street slang familiarity and then as a racist slur. So, it boils down to the intent of your usage.

The problem that rises with Chet’s use is that here we have a privileged white dude, claiming a lifestyle that does not reflect the truth of his upbringing.

Hip-hop is a culture birthed out of struggle, pain, hardships, Chet. It was not just a trendy thing to do. It was and remains a way of survival for many. Circumstances weren’t decided upon and a choice of environment and adversity was not an option for many. Understand that, Chet.

Rounding up a few friends of color does not mean that you also take on the historical inequalities and trials of Black culture. Let’s be clear.

Keep living your life, Chet. But your “career” in rap won’t go far with these antics. Just sayin’.