Yesterday afternoon, blogs and Twitter were on fire with news that a Dutch magazine had referred to Rihanna as having a “ghetto ass” and being the “ultimate ni—b—h.” Where “Jackie” magazine came up with the phrasing for the latter term — have you heard it before? I’ve never — I don’t know. But nevertheless, it’s how they chose to describe the Barbados-born beauty, who they mistakenly referred to as Jamaican.
I can’t think of a possible context where either of those phrases would be anything less than highly inappropriate. However, for those of you wondering about that, the article, which was supposed to tell readers how to tactfully dress like Rihanna, read the following:
“She has the street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate n—-b—h and displays that gladly, and for her that means what’s on can come off.”
As you can imagine, some readers were understandably ticked by the use of the unique and sexist combo-slur. Jackie Editor-in-Chief Eva Hoeke issued a poor excuse for an apology… on Facebook.
“This should have never happened. Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was meant as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least,” Hoeke wrote. “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.”
She added, “Furthermore, I hope that you all believe that there was absolutely no racist motive behind the choice of words. It was stupid, it was naïve to think 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.”
Hold up: they say “n—-b—h” on the radio where she’s from?
You know, when I was growing up and did something incredibly stupid, I would apologize to my parents. My mother would give me the blankest of blank looks — surely the same one I likely had reading Hoeke’s babbling apology — and she’d say, “don’t be sorry, just don’t do it.”
I’m quite sick of folks who should obviously know better not doing so. From the caption writer who post-Katrina described a Black child as “stealing” food and a white couple doing the same as “finding” it, to the other caption writer who referred to the FLOTUS as a “baby mama” to Joan Rivers calling Mrs. Obama “Blackie O,” to Vogue evoking King Kong-ape imagery when it featured LeBron James on the cover, to the politico who sent pictures of the White House garden covered in watermelons, to the Pepsi commercial with the angry can-throwing Black woman, to the Hail to the V ads with the Sistah-Gurrrrl accent that no Black woman in real life uses ever, and so many more, I am beyond over the empty apologies. I am tired of blatantly ignorant commenters, creating blatantly racist imagery and using blatantly sexist and disparaging language to refer to Black women. And I am certainly sick and over and tired of people feigning ignorance when there are no excuses for it.
Get a dang book and look something up. Do a Google search. Ask someone. Hire some qualified Black people that can steer your brand around humongous, glaring, gaping, offensive errors that result in hate mail, ticked off readers, and PR disasters. Do something other than doing something dumb, then offering empty apologies like that makes everything better.
I clearly don’t accept Hoeke’s apology? Do you?
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk