US paper incensed at NRC use of n-word in headline
The Washington Post has reacted with fury to the headline on a review of several books on race and racism and the accompanying illustrations which appeared in the NRC on July 31.
The article, written by the NRC’s Washington correspondent Guus Valk, opened with a review of Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’ latest book, Between the World and Me.
The Washington Post writes: ‘Somewhere along the editorial process, the editors thought it would be a good idea to headline the article Nigger, Are You Crazy?’
The headline is taken from Paul Beatty’s book The Sellout which was also reviewed.
The headline is taken from Paul Beatty’s book The Sellout which was also reviewed. Its offensiveness was compounded, says the US paper, by the accompanying blackface figures.
NRC book supplement editor Michel Krielaars told the Washington Post: ‘The tone of the article is pessimistic, and the illustrations, as well as the headline, were meant to reflect that. There is no racist remark to be read in the review.’
He went on to say the article, its headline and illustrations were in Dutch and not aimed at non-Dutch readers. ‘Because the n-word is English, the offensive value in Dutch is not as direct as it is in English.’
The illustrations were intended to be stereotypical, he said. ‘The illustrations are offensive because the racial situation in the US, as described in the reviewed books, is offensive.
The Washington Post is scathing about his response. ‘The editors knew full well the emotionally violent, dehumanizing power of the n-word for blacks in America and were perfectly fine with offending them needlessly.’
The paper goes on to say there are black Dutch speakers living in the Netherlands who took offence.
It is not the first time Dutch media has been under fire for the use of the n-word. In 2011, Dutch fashion magazine Jackie called Rihanna the ‘ultimate nigger bitch’ in terms of her fashion sense.
Editor Eva Hoeke claimed the term was a joke but later commented the ‘errors’ were ‘without malicious intentions’. She later resigned from the magazine.