One word that tends to stir controversy is the use of the N-word in public communication. It may not offend the sensibilities in general conversations among the Black community. But, don’t be mistaken, it will not attract the same reaction when it’s coming out of the mouth of a White.
Literally, the word nigger is a dismissive way of placing Blacks in a suggestive bracket of being lazy, animalistic, violence inclined, and ignorant among other racial caricatures, according to the Ferris State University Jim Crow Museum.
A stretch of the connotation presents anyone of African ancestry as intellectually childlike, lacking attractive physical traits and irresponsible. Wherever the word nigger originated, there is undeniable gain in saying since the 1800s, its use has been associated with white racism.
That’s why it doesn’t sit right with the Black Twitter community when virtual rapper FN Meka, who is literally powered by artificial intelligence, heavily uses the N-word in his lyrical rendition.
FN Meka, who was created by Anthony Martini, is light-skinned with green dreadlocks. The virtual rapper has not been assigned a race and is gender neutral. He was recently signed to major record label Capital Records, making it the first artificially powered robot to be signed.
Anthony Martini reportedly told Revolt tv that FN Meka was designed to analyze popular music genres and recreate its own melody and musical rendition. The virtual-powered rapper also took his personal Instagram account with a picture of himself being assaulted by police and asking for advice on how to deal with police brutality.
These cultural representations and stereotypes are what have enraged many Twitter followers in the Black community with some arguing that the AI artist is being remotely controlled to reinforce existing fantasies about the Black community and stimulate the fetishes of White supremacists.
Others were of the view that how the AI rapper has been crafted in look and his choice of words is to cast racial slurs on the Black community.
As it happens, is it the thinking of the AI creator or the record label to detach themselves from the actions of the FN Meka, and is it the expectation that the virtual rapper must be excused because of its impersonal nature.
But, the message, messenger and creators cannot be separated on the basis of the principle of ultimate responsibility. The melody, the lyrics, the instrumentals and recommendations are programmed by the creator. FN Meka is simply a conveyor belt for a creator who is White and a record label wanting to push a racial fantasy. Excusing these two from blame suggests it is an experiment the public must buy because FN Meka is the first artificial intelligence-powered rapper. It suggests they are not aware the use of the N-word would offend the sensibilities of the minority community.
Many Blacks have been at the brunt of police brutality. FN Meka portrayed as white on his Instagram account while being beaten by a police officer seems to suggest that if there is any case of police brutality, the white community suffers the same rage at the hands of law enforcement officers as Blacks. Though FN Meka was not assigned a race, the portrayal on his private account speaks volumes of the motive and sentiments of the creator of police brutality against Blacks.
The worrying trend is encouraging the N-word by an emerging technology is legitimizing hate speech. Author Kent Greenawalt in his book, ‘Speech, Crime and the Uses of Language, said the use of the N-word has a shock effect and it tends to disturb the psyche of people aside from the implied meaning the word carries.
He indicated that if it was used in face-to-face interaction, the possibility of violence erupting could be high. Clearly, the value of a word lies in the harm it produces.