Calling Madonna Out On Racist Term Of Endearment Doesn’t Make Us ‘Haters’



In case you haven’t heard, Madonna has been in hot water lately for using a certain racial epitaph on Instagram as a sort of racist term of endearment about her son Rocco, and apparently we’re all “haters” for calling her out on it. And yes, she actually called the n-word a “term of endearment.” I find this kind of thing baffling. When will people get the concept that it’s NOT okay to say this shit? Just like it’s not okay to wear blackface, or glibly use other people’s cultures for fun and profit. Just stop it already.

Now, of course, Madonna is totally backtracking and has issues a well thought out, introspective apology. Just kidding! Her first response to the controversy was to edit the caption to read  ”Let me start this again, get off my d*ck, haters.” Klassy. Eventually she did issue a semi-legit apology, stating:

“I am sorry if I offended anyone with my use of the N-word on Instagram. It was not meant as a racial slur … I am not a racist. There’s no way to defend the use of the word. It was all about intention … it was used as a term of endearment toward my son who is white. I appreciate that it’s a provocative word and I apologize if it gave people the wrong impression. Forgive me.”

Basically “Sorry, not sorry.” Or rather “Sorry you were offended.” This is not an apology, and certainly doesn’t acknowledge how ignorant she was when she posted what she posted. I’m not usually all pearl-clutchy about stuff celebrities say, but considering that this was attached to a photo of her 13-year-old son, AND it’s coming on the heels of another controversy about the same son, I am seriously left shaking my head in bafflement. Isn’t Madge a zillionaire? Shouldn’t she have people running these accounts? People who are paid to know not to use the n-word about anyone, let alone a kid? Consider my pearls clutched.

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  • MerlePerle

    No sane, self-aware calls others haters. Haters are usually just the people who call you out on your bullshit and narcissits like Madonna don’t like that.

  • pixie

    I really wish people would learn that it is not ok to say “nigger” or any version of it (like “nigga”). Just like it is not ok to say “chink”, “paki”, “cracker”, “ching chong”, “darky”, “honky”, “Injun”, or any racial/hate slur. I even get really uncomfortable when people of a specific race (whether it be black, asian, etc) throw around racial slurs like it’s no big deal (for example, a lot of rap music). Just because Madonna’s rich and famous doesn’t give her a free pass to use inappropriate language. And I just can’t do anything other than headdesk at her first response of calling people haters.

    (I added in the slurs against while people, though I realize there are quite a few people who don’t think they’re such a big deal because of white privilege and white people having done horrible things to other races in the past, but I really don’t think it is appropriate when I see people throwing around the word “cracker” or “honky” as an insult because it is just as bigoted as throwing around any other slur. Both words have deeper meanings than just being against white people, and involve the lower class)

    • brebay

      I agree, though it is going to be hard for me to discontinue redneck.

    • pixie

      I will admit to using redneck from time to time, and though it is technically a slur, I spend a lot of time around a horse farm and farmers who proudly call themselves hicks and rednecks whenever I’m visiting my parents. I really, really try hard not to, but everyone slips up or has a different level of what they find offensive.

    • brebay

      I’m a blue gal stuck in a red state, people still say “colored” here. I need something to say when I pull up next to a pick-up truck on 4-foot tires with a confederate flag hanging out the back and no seatbelts…I’ll keep working on it ;)

    • Justme

      Ass hole works well.

    • Mel

      Me too! I’m in a blue county in a very red state, in a very red family. It makes me sad and angry most of the time. I try to avoid acknowledging the confederate flag nonsense whenever possible. I think asshole is a pretty decent compromise like Justme said :)

    • KaeTay

      I agree everyone in general needs to step away from the racial slurs.. which you forgot to add the one most used for hispanics. A friend of mine was once called a cracker. I still crack up at her response: “burnt cracker”. I’ve been referred to as a cracker more than once. I never let it get to me as well. Racial slurs are just a cowards way to get a rise out of you.

    • pixie

      I knew I missed a few, I just listed the ones I’ve heard most often. There weren’t many hispanics in the area where I grew up nor where I am right now, so I couldn’t think of any slurs against them.

    • Lackadaisical

      I am always fearful when a racist label becomes considered ok because people claim it wasn’t used in a racist way or a particular group can take it. I think whatever the justification turning racism into a joke or “friendly” banter makes people who are bullied with those terms feel unable to speak out in case they are being oversensitive (which they aren’t) and trains people to accept racism.

      Different areas and countries seem to have different target groups to bully with different terms. Here in England it seemed to me as a kid that the most playground abuse was towards Pakistani, Indian and Gypsy/traveler/Roma people. There is still a very, very wrong feeling that it isn’t racism if you are talking about travelers. There are 3 official Gypsy and traveller sites in the small city where I live and when the council proposed another down the road from where I live the hate heard locally was quite startling. We also have a term here that is part derogatory of class but also has Gypsy connotations that the media and public feel free to use freely and that via “chav”. It is commonly used against people in council houses (local government owned, low rent, for people on benefits and low income) with an attitude of deserved poverty, people with working class backgrounds but new money (know your place put down) and Gypsies and travellers as mentioned.

    • pixie

      I’ve heard “chav” before (having relatives in England and watching a good deal of British television) and am very aware of the prejudice against the Gypsies/travellers/Romas (watching ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ and my riding coach is Irish, though she is not particularly prejudiced against them that I am aware of). From my understanding the prejudice against the Gypsies is similar to the prejudice against First Nations here: they’re useless, violent, unemployed drunks and drug abusers. Yes there are some who are like that (not going to get into the why, that’s a discussion for another day), but for the most part they are good people with a vibrant culture. Their culture and set of beliefs may be different than ours but that does not make it wrong.

      Plus, they have nice horses, which I cannot hate a people who have such nice horses.

    • Lackadaisical

      I think the no fixed abode thing comes into it too. If culturally you define success and power by land ownership and material goods then to coexist with a culture that views land as a part of nature to be shared by its inhabitants is a bit threatening. Here the biggest stereotype thrown at Gypsies and travellers is theft followed by trespass and lying. Of course being a small and densely populated island land ownership and respect of it are possibly a bigger deal than in America. Then there is the religious/spiritual side of it. Gypsies are synonymous with fortune telling, curses and charms. All the things that a local vicar in years gone by would have told the congregation are wicked and sinful because they are not a part of the mainstream religion. It adds to the exotic appeal in those that long to rebel (leading to cultural appropriation) and adds misguided moral judgment to those who are bigoted against them.

  • Snarktopus

    Get me some pearls, and I’ll clutch them with you. This is ridiculous.

  • brebay

    The “dis” is almost as bad. Seriously, lady, you’re past menopause, quit trying so hard. You’re an old, un-cool mom just like everyone else’s.

  • CMJ

    “It was not meant as a racial slur.”

    Honey, regardless of your “intent,” it IS a racial slur.

    • Sami Jankins

      Also in raising two black children, she should be even more conscious of her word choices. Agree with you completely.

  • Chelsea DeLoney

    The most important thing you can do as the majority (which in this country is white people) is point out when someone says or does something abusive to minorities. We all have the power to end this type of ignorance. It’s never okay to say it. Not for me as a Black person and not for Madonna. Us saying it (though I don’t) is a product of oppressive brainwashing. That word is the last thing many people heard before they were tortured and killed.
    Thank you so much for posting this article!

  • GG

    It’s a racial epithet, not epitaph. An epitaph goes on a gravestone.

  • Gangle

    I am sorry, but an adult woman used the term ‘hater’. I instantly don’t take anything she says seriously after that. She used a racist slur and she should feel ashamed.

  • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

    I just don’t understand. She has two children from Malawi, right? Would she use that word to describe those children? Wouldn’t she be outraged if someone else did? I am shocked by this.

  • Byron

    I have found that modern youth uses “nigguh” as a word equivalent to “dude” or “bro”. I have been called that (I myself am not american and I appear white, though culturally I’m more into Japanese things than anything else, for reference) as a term of comaraderie by friendly to me black people who said it with a smile. I won’t lie, it made me feel like I belonged.

    I personally haven’t used it because I generally don’t use either of the above “dude-like” terms when I speak as it’s a thing not commonly done in my native language. While I
    understand the overarching themes of why it is generally inappropriate to use the term (as well as the “er” variant, which is actually what young people of today actually deem as a pejorative) I also think it’s really not bad at all if you know your place and don’t just start calling everyone you see that term.

    • brebay

      “Know you place” as a solution to racism…brilliant…Young people say a lot of stupid, ignorant things. #rapeface anyone? It’s the job of adults to teach them not to, not to excuse it because “all the kids are saying it.” The number of morons accepting a racist term does not make it less racist.

    • Byron

      I wasn’t talking of teenagers (or non-adults) here, just young people. Say, younger than 30 or so. Nobody was being a racist here. People were just using it as another term for “buddy” within themselves and even extended it to me despite my not being black. Do you think they were being racist towards me in doing that?

    • brebay

      It’s a racist term, it should not be used toward anyone. Saying it to a white person is still being racist to black people. For the same reason it’s still racist to tell a racist joke even if no one in earshot is of that race. Sheesh. Just stop. It is not a term for buddy, it is a racial epithet. Quit wasting your time defending a racist, archaic term and just learn a new word!

    • Byron

      If in the appropriate context is can mean “buddy” and when it is used by people of the group it purportedly is racist against with kindness in their heart as a way of making someone feel included and as part of the group, even unconsciously so, I really can’t see the harm in it. I guess you’re being general while I am being particular but I honestly felt a lot of love coming my way due to that statement and I’d be hard-pressed to find any ill about it.

    • brebay

      Get a thesaurus.

    • Kay_Sue

      You do realize that’s completely irrelevant here, right?

      Madonna is not a young person. Neither she nor her son are a person of color. I’d also argue that Madonna is largely, considering her history of antics, unaware of her place in the world (or conversely, very aware of her place in the world, and uses it to purposefully fuel controversy). Your entire “well, it’s okay on the basis of this experience that I have had” anecdote is based on this underpinning, which is inaccurate in light of these events.

    • Guest

      When I was the only white person working with many black people at my job, they used the term for themselves and eventually called me that as well. Their intent might have been to signal that I was one of the group, and it didn’t offend me, but I would never have been comfortable saying it myself ever. I don’t like the word at all and I wish that EVERYONE would quit using it, no matter how they supposedly mean it. It’s ugly and not cool and I especially hate that people are teaching their kids to call one another that. There is no “reclaiming” a word that is so weighted with misery and bullshit.

    • ted3553

      young people are way too casual about calling everyone a bitch as well. Doesn’t make it right and it’s definitely not ok in my books

  • Kay_Sue

    When my son and I had a recent discussion about bullying, we talked about how, if you stand silently and let someone be bullied without saying anything or telling anyone, you’re basically saying it’s okay.

    I feel like it’s the same in situations like this. When a majority stands back and says nothing, or let’s it slide, you’re giving your implicit consent or approval. It doesn’t matter whether you actually agree or disagree–by not voicing dissent and disapproval, you’re saying it’s okay and perpetuating an environment where it’s okay.

    Definitely doesn’t make us “haters”.

  • CrazyLogic

    When my brother’s girlfriend heard about this, her first question was to ask if Madonna or her son were Hispanic. Apparently, in Columbia at least, “negra” is a term of endearment for girls. She went on to explain that while it will often slip when they speak Spanish to each other, they make an effort not to use it or it’s translation when speaking English because, well I’m sure you guys can guess.

    When I pointed out it was the “n-word” as we know it and not “negro” like she assumed (I tend to use n-word for both) she changed her attitude and agreed that it was unacceptable. But hey, I learned something new today.

  • Amber Starr

    What a douchebag. It is bad enough with a 16 year old kid calls someone the n word, but when a grown-ass woman uses it, it’s even worse. She tries so hard to stay edgy and relevant, but at this point she is a desperate, shriveled hag (who happens to have a buttload of money).

  • Cement Block

    All yall honky crackas be trippin’ yo!

    chillax, Modanna be thuggin it on IG and yall be playa hatin’

    • brebay

      I think one’s Playa’s Club card expires the same month they send you your AARP card, so she’s out.