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Jun-05-2012 11:26printcomments

Dr. Boyce: Gwyneth Paltrow and All Her N*ggas

We should all be concerned with those who travel the world and bastardize the black experience with buffoonish behavior.

Gwyneth Paltrow used the term “Ni**as in Paris” to describe her time hanging out with Beyonce and Jay-Z.
Gwyneth Paltrow used the term “Ni**as in Paris” to describe her time hanging out with Beyonce and Jay-Z.

(SYRACUSE, NY YourBlackWorld) - Someone recently gave me a call about the incident in which actress Gwyneth Paltrow used the term “Ni**as in Paris” to describe her time hanging out with Beyonce, Jay-Z, Spike Lee and a bunch of other random people in their clique. When I heard about Gwyneth’s unfortunate use of words on Twitter, I thought to myself, “I wonder if she would have said the same thing if she’d been hanging out with Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie? Aren’t they her ni**as too?”

The answer to the question above (which I believe is a resounding “no”) makes it clear that Gwyneth chose those words specifically to reference the brown-skinned people around her. Mind you, two of them (Jay-Z and Kanye) had just made a song calling themselves “Ni**as in Paris,” but the other people in the picture didn’t write the song. I’m not sure if they’d want to be referred to as “Gwyneth’s Ni**as,” but since she is a wealthy, famous white woman, they’d probably let her refer to them as her pet monkeys.

We should all be concerned with those who travel the world and bastardize the black experience with buffoonish behavior, taking big paychecks from non-black people who love for us to entertain them with minstrel shows. This isn’t much different from the big lipped, black faced, buck-dancing caricatures that were exploited 100 years ago. Kanye and Jay-Z take an inaccurate version of life in the hood, and export it to audiences around the world, who pay them to act the way they think “real” black people are supposed behave.

To some extent, their careers can be compared to the Asian funny man in the film, “The Hangover.” The character, played by Ken Jeong, fits every goofy Asian stereotype known to man. The role has been so successful that Jeong, who went to The University of North Carolina School of Medicine, gave up his medical career to be a full-time Asian buffoon. I’m sure the Asian community is so proud and would love to see their children grow up to be just like Jeong (yes, I was being sarcastic).

By seeing ourselves portrayed as walking stereotypes and bombarding our kids with images of black men with 100 pound necklaces, head-to-toe tattoos, and mouths full of metal, we are persuading black kids to do as Jeong did and pass up opportunities to have respectable lives so they can help white people enjoy their fresh-cooked negro stereotypes. The same white guy would not let your black butt date his daughter is telling you that you are his “ni**ga,” and how cool it is to hear you rap about the “ni**a” you shot last week.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Special thanks to Dr. Boyce Watkins, KultureKritic and Your Black World




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Karin June 6, 2012 4:42 pm (Pacific time)

My initial reaction was totally wrong and by the finish of your short piece I 'totally got it' and caught myself chuckling. Nothing beats a strong dose of sarcasm to get ones point across and you did an excellent job indeed. Thanks for the enlightenment and the sarcasm as a chaser. :)

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