When Hipster Racism Fails: Rihanna Labeled the “Ultimate Niggabitch” by Dutch Magazine

Ever since Barack Obama was voted into office as President of The United States, liberal types have been dropping constant memos stating: Obama’s presidency is proof positive that we’re living in a post-racial society!  In fact, they’ve been virtually imploring  people of color to stop griping about racism and to get a sense of humor about the piss-poor comedic stylings showcasing their hipster racism.

Barack’s presidency is considered the ultimate triumph over White supremacy.  Once the First (Black) Family settled into the White House, Black citizens suddenly felt comfortable enough to enjoy a slice of delicious, refreshing watermelon and that piece of chicken at the company BBQ without reproach or side-eyes from their co-workers.  People of the African Diaspora the world over (especially Afro-Europeans) rejoiced and seemed compelled to action as they re-evaluated their place among European society. Despite protests to the contrary, America is still grappling with racist agitators and questionable images portrayed in the media, even as we’re right on the cusp of 2012.  And while offenders in this country are often taken to task for fanning the flames of ignorance, Europe and European media outlets continue to have a complacent, laissez faire attitude or seem to harbor a lack of education when it comes to global race relations… particularly how it functions here in the United States. For instance, Vogue Italia came under fire this past summer for referring to hoop earrings commonly worn by women of color as “slave earrings” and made sure to amend their gaffe since the backlash.

This latest and flagrant act of ignorance came courtesy of a Dutch magazine called Jackie. Applying the wit of a hipster telling a racially insensitive joke, a writer for Jackie advised its readers on how to dress like super Popstar, Rihanna, without looking like “De Niggabitch”  …   …  Yes you read correctly. Someone from a legitimate fashion publication actually wrote an article touting the attributes that make a true “niggabitch”and titled it as such. See, a post-racial society prompts media types to use precarious language and reinforce stereotypes when referencing Black women…

“She has street cred, she has a ghetto ass and she has a golden throat. Rihanna, the good girl gone bad, is the ultimate niggabitch and displays that gladly, and for her that means: what’s on can come off. If that means she’ll be on stage half naked, then so be it. But Dutch winters aren’t like Jamaican ones, so pick a clothing style in which your daughter can resist minus ten. No to the big sunglasses and the pornheels, and yes to the tiger print, pink shizzle and everything that glitters. Now let’s hope she won’t beat anybody up at daycare.”  The journalist wrote… adding insult to injury by getting the Bajan singer’s country of origin wrong.

Jackie Editor in Chief Eva Hoeke issued a half-hearted and seemingly forced apology via the magazine’s Facebook page…

Dear readers,

First: thanks for all your responses. We are of course very fed up over this and especially very shocked. However I’m glad that we’re engaging in a dialogue on this page — not everybody does that. Thanks for this. Other than that I can be brief about this: this should have never happened. Period. While the author meant no harm — the title of the article was intended as a joke — it was a bad joke, to say the least. 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. Furthermore I hope that you all believe there was absolutely no racist motive behind the choice of words. It was stupid, it was naive to think that 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. We make our magazine with love, energy and enthusiasm, and it can sometimes happen that someone is out of line. And then you can only do one thing: apologize. And hope that others wish to accept it.

From the bottom of my heart I say it again: we never intended to offend anyone. And I mean that.

The problem with Eva Hoeke’s – (who elicited a stern response from RiRi and immediately resigned following the flap) – apology is that it’s disingenuous and back-handed. Her shock and dismay over being taken to task for irresponsible leadership and not being able to use ignorant language when referring to a woman of color in her publication, illustrates an example of how White privilege works; In this instance, a European Editor-in-Chief  wants to be granted the right to endorse ugly language, used in a negative way to describe a Black woman, in a national publication, without liability or the burden of being held accountable for it. Under Eva’s leadership, the “De Niggerbitch” article in Jackie misinformed its readership by choosing to conceptualize a racial and sexual stereotype,  and when it backfired the Editor-in-Chief tried to absolve the writer and herself (as a team leader), of any responsibility. Instead, Eva attempted to blame American street vernacular for her poor choice and used the old, “Well they say it, so we thought we could use that word too… Jeez, it was a JOKE!” trick, so-called culturally evolved types try to employ whenever they’re taken to task for an ignorant and ill-advised infraction.

Despite the regret she claimed to feel, Eva seemed to express exasperation over the outcome of her misstep. In a rambling follow-up statement, Hoeke digs an even deeper grave and refuses to comprehend what the big deal is. In fact, she is determined to place emphasis on where the term“NiggaBitch” came from:

I realize that my first reaction through Twitter, in which I indicated that it was a joke, has been an incomplete description of what me, and also the author of the article, meant. The term ‘niggabitch’ came from America and we solely used it to describe a style of dress. Because of the enormous pressure through social media I was tempted to promise amendment regarding the language in future issues of Jackie. Apart from that I also offered an rectification. I have now come to the conclusion that rectification is not the right solution. (Read the rest here)

Regardless of where an obviously vulgar slang term was born from (I don’t recall  NiggaBitch being in the lexicon of American slang), magazine editors and writers worth their weight should be intelligent enough to discern whether or not certain visuals and phrases have a place in their publication or ad campaigns. Eva Hoeke’s job was to make intelligent editorial decisions on behalf of Jackie magazine… to weigh the cons (because I can’t think of any pros) of referring to an international popstar or any adult woman of color for that matter, as a niggabitch with a “ghetto ass” in a widely distributed magazine.  Her unwillingness to truly understand why it wasn’t OK and attempt to deflect responsibility is what truly ruined her credibility as a magazine editor,  not the public outrage. But then again, she is from a country that thinks it’s cool to celebrate the legend of a Minstrel elf called Black Peter every 5th of December