Lucious and Cookie Address the N-Word: How Empire Could Break New Ground in Black Television by using the N-Word

In the early 90s there was a moderately successful rapper by the name of MC Breed who made a significant splash in the hip-hop world with the song, Ain’t No Future in yo’ Frontin. Put simply, MC Breed was advising the world that there was no future in promoting falsity in life. In ‘hood’ vernacular, ‘be true to the game.’

Now I am certain that you are wondering why I am even mentioning MC Breed, Lord know that I did not wake up intending to mention this relatively minor rap icon. However, the impetus to me resurrecting MC Breed from Empire 2the dead flows from a slight dust up that Terrence Howard, the star of the incredibly successful show Empire, has caused with his desire to bring more authenticity to a show that maligns and assassinates the African-American persona at every turn. Mention any stereotype that has been associated with Black America since their arrival on the North American continent and I challenge you to not find it in this hit show.

Empire has it all: drug dealing, drug abuse, homosexuality, psychological problems, infidelity, inter-racial relationship, lying, cheating, conniving, murder, hyper-sexuality, lust, and stealing. And the truth of the matter is that the Black community absolutely, irrefutably loves it; they Empireseemingly can not get enough of it. Making matters worse is the fact that a ‘who’s who’ of Black Hollywood has lined up for an opportunity to make an appearance on the show: Mary J. Blige, Naomi Campbell, and Oprah Winfrey; to name a few.

So having settled in on the fact that this will be an extremely unorthodox day for me, as noted above, I never thought that I would mention MC Breed in today’s blog post; I also never imagined that I would side with brother Terrence Howard on this matter. After a little reflection, I now believe that hell yeah he should be able to use the N-Word in the Empire 3show to bring more authenticity to the show. Now I am certain that many of you are offended that I would side with Terrence Howard on this matter, however, I think that the best art is a seamless reflection of life and there ‘Ain’t No Future in Yo Frontin.’ Although it is difficult for many to admit this in public, Black folk routinely use the N-Word in their daily conversation.

Although many African-Americans abandon its usage while in the public arena as a sign of decorum. I wish that such individuals would abandon the façade and publicly admit that they love watching reality TV, using the N-Word, and could care less about what others, particularly ‘conscious Black people’ think about them. It is their life and they should damn well be allowed to live it in as niggardly a manner as they please. The truth is that for many within my community, behaving as a nigger is loads of fun and absolves them of any responsibility.

However, not everyone involved with Empire agrees with Terrence Howard’s desire to integrate the N-Word into the show. Now I have read, and laughed at, Taraji P. Henson’s statement regarding this matter, a morally feeble position that basically boils down to Empire 4her fear that the use of this word may offend some people and therefore compromise the ratings that the show is currently pulling in. She is obviously not concerned with the use of the N-Word, a principled position that most could have at least respected, rather she is unwilling to risk the shows success by ‘pushing the envelope.’

I think that Taraji P. Henson, whom I think is a brilliant actress, is looking at this wrong. If Lee Daniels would allow Terrence Howard and other characters as well to use the N-Word, it would not only make Empire more authenticate, but also break ground by making the show the first truly interactive Black show ever produced.

It would be groundbreaking in that it would include the favored pet name of so many of its viewers. I can just see droves of Negroes rushing to view the show waiting for one of the characters to call them by their favored pet name, nigger. I am certain that they prefer such a moniker because only a nigger would sit glued to a television set to view the denigration of themselves, their people, and all of those that came before them for a global audience. On second thought I may be wrong regarding the pet name, maybe it is not Nigger, I think that stupid ass nigger is more appropriate.

James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.


© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.

7 thoughts on “Lucious and Cookie Address the N-Word: How Empire Could Break New Ground in Black Television by using the N-Word”

  1. Not all of us Black’s are niggerdly people, we may have our moments but that is not what makes us black. And for you to say that we are all niggerdly and should embrace it because it will seem more authentic is funny. That’s like saying Asians can’t play sports and should stick to education instead because that’s all they’re good or known for.

    1. I most certainly did not say that ALL Blacks are niggardly, I was pointing out that there is a segment of individuals who behave niggardly and consider the portrayal of African-Americans as drug dealing, misogynistic, violent, hyper-sexual, and socially inappropriate at each and every turn as an authentic, or more importantly the only, portrayals of Black life. I disagree with this contention as much as I agree that such moments make us “Black”. Those moments make you niggardly, not Black or human, merely niggardly.

      1. So if there is a segment of individuals who behave niggerdly considering the portrayal of African Americans, why be in favor of this word which does not portray the race as a whole. If all blacks are not niggerdly why embrace the word nigga, especially on television? Having those moments aren’t what make us black but to the world of uncolored people, being a nigga, acting like a nigga, and looking like a nigga is what makes us black. I think too many black people say that word out of habit because the n-word is like saying what’s good my brotha, or is simply just a word to black people, but when other races think of the word nigga they see us as niggers, drug dealers, violent, etc etc. So are you saying the show will explain that being a nigga isn’t as bad as it seems? And If you’re proud to be a nigga you’d rather be called what you are by everyone and anyone, friends, co workers, strangers etc etc. That would mean it’s okay to integrate the N-word among other races because being a nigga does not make you black? We can all be niggas, because they too have their niggerdly moments?

  2. I thought your post would be about this show helping the black community to stop saying the N-word. Well I dont agree with any thing you said or with Terrance. You do know Fox is a racist channel, so they’ll love to hear us say that word, giving them leeway to say it as well. Too many black people love this word and for what? Because black people have been saying it for years? Mr.Jones, you do realize black history is not taught in classes world wide, in fact in the new text books, it is rumored that they will make slavery not look as bad as it was. In all my years in school, your class is the Only One to go into detail about our black history. I’m basically getting out of your post that we should completely forget where that word orignates from (finally ignore our history like the rest of the world has) and embrace the n-word with a completely new meaning?? Help me out, because I don’t get how this could possibly be a good thing. And don’t get me wrong, Empire is entertaining, but what about the shows that uplifted the black race and made us look good too, like the Cosby show or A Different World? The only shows that I see on TV today are shows that continue to help black people fit the stereotypes made for us.

    1. You totally missed the point of this post. This post is aimed at highlighting the fact that if the images that we are supporting or consider entertaining highlight the negative, or niggardly, aspects of our community, why not go the full length and use the N-word. Put simply, there is no right way to do the wrong thing. So if we are going to be portrayed in such a negative light, why not continue that trajectory. Trust me when I say that withholding the “N-word” from Empire does not make it anymore palatable.

      1. Oh okay I finally see your point. I was confused for a minute because I thought you meant that embracing the N-word on the show could be a good thing for the black community, by making us more stereotypical type of blacks and proud to be niggas. I knew it couldn’t have made sense for you to be a black history teacher and then portray such a negative word in a positive light. Thank you for your clarification.

  3. I think that they should be able to, simply because there are so many thing going on throughout the show that are not civil so why not take it to the next level, after all that’s what the show is supposed to be about, giving the Television world something they have never experienced before.

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