Gwyneth Paltrow May Be An Annoying Prima Donna But She’s Not Racist

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Oh Gwyneth, Gwyneth, Gwyneth. There are so many good reasons to dislike Gwyneth Paltrow, the born-to-privilege celebrity, but her latest controversy is overblown.

Gwyneth loves to brag about her friendship with Jay-Z and Beyonce, as you know. And this past weekend, she was partying with Jay-Z in Paris. Jay-Z and Kanye West have a popular single out that is called “Ni**as in Paris.” Except that they don’t use the asterisks. I do, because I can not stand that word and I hate it and I hate even mentioning it or putting it in text. I don’t like it whether white people or black people or other people use it, but I’m in a distinct minority. As evidenced by the fact that this single hit number 5 on the Billboard charts, become Kanye’s 14th top-10 single, Jay-Z’s 18th, and sold a whopping two million units in the U.S. alone.

OK, so Gwyneth is in Paris, is invited up on stage to join Kanye and Jay-Z as they sing this popular single, and then tweets a photo of her doing this with the caption “Ni**as in Paris for real.” She didn’t use the asterisks either.

So what? Well, people flipped out. And while I love a good chance to mock the smug and out-of-touch Paltrow and while I hate the N-word, this is ridiculous. All over twitter and other tubes on the internet, people condemned her for using the n-word, to which she had a rather obvious reply on Sunday:

“Hold up. It’s the title of the song!”

People are still flipping out over it, though.

Producer Terius Youngdell Nash, better known by his stage name The-Dream, leaped to Paltrow’s defense and claimed he tweeted the picture and caption from Gwyneth’s phone while drunk. Whether that’s true or not (my bet is that it is one of Gwyneth’s indentured servants who is currently being punished for his poor tweeting performance), who cares. Get over it.

Now, having said all that, it may be good for Paltrow to consider whether or not her use of racist language is a good example for her children, but that’s a question we all have to deal with.

My children are still young, but sometimes I worry about simply talking about racism in front of them. I want to protect them from all the sinful ways people treat each other or talk to each other, identify others or self-identify. It’s hard. No, it’s impossible. So how do we talk about race and racism and how do our children learn what’s appropriate and inappropriate about racial pop culture references?

And yes, I write this as someone who accidentally watched old footage last week in front of my children of Eddie Murphy‘s “Kill All The White People” send-up from the SNL of old. I hope I turned it off in time. If not, this could make for an interesting solo during Sunday School. My daughter is fond of picking up snippets of Rhianna songs and singing them at church.

Helga Esteb /