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Gina Rodriguez sings N-word, sparking a racial debate

By Melissa Mora

We’ve all seen Netflix’s Someone Great and cried our eyes out because Gina Rodriguez’s performance felt way too real and just hit a little too close to home. All great actors can turn it on and off for the camera. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, she must have forgotten to turn it off. 

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, Rodriguez uploaded a video to her Instagram story in which she was seen rapping along to a Fugees’ song. “I can do what you do… believe me. N– give me heebie-jeebies,” she boldly sang. The post didn’t last online for very long. 

Rodriguez later put up another video on her story where she very inauthentically apologized. “I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to The Fugees, to a song I love, that I grew up on. I love Lauryn Hill. And I really am sorry if I offended you.” She essentially apologized for singing a song, not for using a word that she has no right to ever say. A classic PR apology. 

@/MJFinesseLover on Twitter said, “Gina Rodriguez has proven herself to be anti-black on so many occasions. You could tell that she is used to saying the n-word just by the way the word rolled off her tongue. Her apology was bull– too. Trash af.” 

After a countless amount of backlash, Rodriguez issued another apology early the following day. “I thoughtlessly sang along to the lyrics of a favorite song and even worse, I posted it. The word I sang carries with it a legacy of hurt and pain that I cannot even imagine. I have some serious learning and growing up to do and I’m so deeply sorry for the pain I have caused,” she said in the lengthy message. 

This wouldn’t be the actress’ first racial scandal and that’s exactly the issue. Rodriguez was accused of interrupting her Smallfoot co-star Yara Shahidi, just last year. Shahidi was asked how she felt about being a role model to so many young black women, to which Rodriguez responded, “so many women,” completely missing the importance of the women being black. 

Rodriguez’s problematic understanding of race only further proves that antiblack racism is not just a white thing. For what seems like years, Hispanics of all different backgrounds have practically been getting away with saying the N-word. I think a perfect example would be the female rapper, Cardi B. 

What makes Cardi B and Gina Rodriguez any different from one another? Nothing, except the fact that one can publicly use the N-word in not only her music, but her day to day life, while the other has basically been attacked by social media’s cancel culture. As a Puerto Rican woman myself, it just doesn’t seem right for either of these women to casually be throwing the word around. 

“Reminder: F– Gina Rodriguez. You don’t have to be anti-Black your entire career, compare Latina women to Black women (for the purpose of demeaning Black women) then try to use an Afro-Latino ancestry to defend you saying ‘n–’. Doesn’t work that way,” Preston Mitchum tweeted. 

 It’s not about whether or not a person is “allowed” to use the word. As Rodriguez said in her second statement, the word carries history. It is simply foolish to think that all minorities go through the same struggles. The experience of a black person and a latinx person is not, and could never be, anywhere near equal. 

Some may say that people are just “too sensitive” nowadays, but that’s not the case at all. Being a person of color is one of the things I am most proud of, yet I know my place. Only one specific community of color has been historically labeled with the infamous word as they were enslaved, beaten and killed. It’s just common sense and human decency to know your place, too.

Melissa Mora can be reached at Melissa.mora@spartans.ut.edu

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