Actress Gina Rodriguez is learning the hard way that using the most offensive racial slur aimed at black people is unacceptable, regardless of context.
On Tuesday, the star of CW’s recently concluded Jane the Virgin series was castigated for her use of the N-word on her Instagram Story while singing the lyrics to the Fugees track, “Ready or Not.”
The 35-year-old vocalized the lyrics from the 1996 track, which includes:
“voodoo / I can do what you do, easy, believe me / Fronting n***as give me hee-bee-gee-bees.”
The public was unforgiving.
you're gina rodriguez. you were just accused of anti-black racism earlier this year. you cried defending yourself.— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) October 15, 2019
do you pic.twitter.com/qtWvvytWcF
just can’t get over how gina rodriguez has a whole video of her crying because people were accusing her of being anti black and now she’s come out and said the n word..what’s wrong with that girl😭😭pic.twitter.com/E1yVdXP4l3— milly (@ncbrina) October 15, 2019
After receiving swift backlash for her post, Rodriguez—who is of Puerto Rican descent—removed the video and apologized.
“I am sorry if I offended anyone by singing along to The Fugees, to a song I love that I grew up on.”
Gina Rodriguez just posted an apology for saying the n-word her Instagram Story earlier today.— Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) October 15, 2019
“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.” pic.twitter.com/QGhIR0wkHb
But her statement did not resonate with the public since it lacked genuine remorse.
People interpreted her half-hearted apology as “weak” and “patronizing.”
I always hate the “I’m sorry if I offended you” line. That never sits right with me.
— 🎃Eyes on the Fright🎃 (@EyesOnTheRight) October 15, 2019
“I’m sorry IF I offended anyone”.
“By singing along to the Fugees”.
This is an example of someone being deliberately obtuse. Gina Rodriguez KNOWS she offended people, not for singing a song but for saying the N-word. If the apology is going to be insincere, just keep quiet. https://t.co/tCjVenvcTs
— TONI TONE (@t0nit0ne) October 15, 2019
I don’t even think she intended to apologize tbh, seems more like mockery to me
— ✨ (@bykubu) October 15, 2019
How about instead of “I’m sorry if I offended you”
go with “I’m sorry I did something offensive. I shouldn’t have and I won’t do it again.”
— Occam’s Razorback (@janeite1900) October 15, 2019
what kind of whack apology … gina rodriguez said don’t worry guys I have the pass because i grew up on lauryn hill pic.twitter.com/EJRe8d9KaX
— a chicken on her last legs (@lNTHERAlN) October 15, 2019
In response to the comments pointing out her insincerity, Rodriguez posted another apology and admitted she has “let this community down” and that she has “serious learning and growing to do.”
Her full statement reads:
“In song or in real life, the words that I spoke should not have been spoken. I grew up loving the Fugees and Lauryn Hill.”
“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 imagine.”
“Whatever consequences I face for my actions today, none will be more hurtful than the personal remorse I feel. Watching my own video playing back at me has shaken me to my core.”
“It is humiliating that this has to be a public lesson but it is indeed a much deserved lesson. I feel so deeply protective and responsible to the community of color but I have let this community down.”
“I have some serious learning and growing to do and I am so deeply sorry for the pain I have caused.”
But her latest apology fared no better than the first and seemingly made things worse.
community of color??? why is gina rodriguez scared of saying the word “Black”???? this is such a self serving apology that centers her pain instead of those that she hurt pic.twitter.com/cSj8x6jSsz— cin (@thorrbruce) October 16, 2019
This and the passive aggressive story apology... nah we got Gina Rodriguez STRESSED pic.twitter.com/BlSt0xGaK2— amy niggadams 🎃 (@tchallastvrm) October 16, 2019
Those who remain unconvinced gave credit to her public relations rep for her second attempt at damage control.
She’s literally not sorry and she showed that in her initial “apology”. This is her PR trying to help her clean up all her mess.
— ♕Korede♕ (@KillahkayLK) October 16, 2019
When PR finally comes thru and takes over lol
— B i a n c a LLF💙♌️ (@its_BiancaK) October 16, 2019
While others thought the apologies were a moot point.
Her apologies make me cringe. She could have kept both of them.
— JayB. (@bee_jass) October 16, 2019
Would’ve been a bit better if this was the original and only apology but even this one reeks of insincerity and a lack of true understanding. Some of the right words are there but I don’t buy she was “rocked to her core” or whatever.
— PullupSeymourHoffman (@Forevertru2ATL) October 16, 2019
She need to stop
— Limit breaker Ced (@coollookcedric) October 16, 2019
— /‘ pētriē / 🌻 (@PetrieVee) October 16, 2019
The actress was slammed online late last year and called “anti-black” for her comments about pay equality.
In November, she told Porter Edit during a roundtable discussion:
“I get so petrified in this space talking about equal pay especially when you look at the intersectional aspect of it, right?”
“Where white women get paid more than black women, black women get paid more than Asian women, Asian women get paid more than Latina women, and it’s like a very scary space to step into.”
gina rodriguez and grabrielle on equal pay pic.twitter.com/v3ffVaUo1Q
— ً (@justlnw) November 23, 2018
Rodriguez was additionally criticized for her impassive praise for women and inclusion in Marvel’s Black Panther.
Instead of celebrating the importance of the film’s role in Black representation, Rodriguez asked in the now-deleted tweet:
“but where are the Latinos?! Asking for a friend…”
When the cast of Black Panther were doing their press promo she basically said "where are the latinos"https://t.co/cPVczEKzdz— TashaSampa (@SampaTasha) October 16, 2019
Regarding the use of the racial slur, Gene Denby—the lead blogger for NPR‘s Code Switch team—said the conversation about who can say the ugly word and when, is complicated.
Denby wrote that there are no rules:
“There are only contexts and consequences.”
“When nonblack folks ask why they can’t say it but black people can, the question misses the point. Anyone can say it — but that doesn’t mean there won’t be fallout for doing so.”
Right now, Rodriguez is facing the consequences of her actions and admits to having lots to learn in her second apology.
Well, it’s a good start.
The book The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why is available here.
Have you listened to the first season of George Takei’s podcast, ‘Oh Myyy Pod!‘?
In season one we explored the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
We’re hard at work on season two so be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss it when it goes live.
Here’s one of our favorite episodes from season one. Enjoy!