I will say this: Words do matter, but Mahershala Ali's statement today about the "N-word" and how its use “by those who aren’t black," not being "up for debate” is rather interesting and, ironically, opens up debate. For years now the word has been used by the people it was historically used to humiliate — many believe as a way to reclaim it. But does that make logical sense? Maybe the past should be the past and the word should be condemned by all, not being used as a way to let it die a slow death.
As mentioned, Ali has released a statement 'accepting' "Green Book" co-star Viggo Mortensen’s apology, but adding that he was still troubled by Viggo's use of the n-word at a post-screening Q&A on Wednesday. Mortensen was trying to make the point that the n-word is no longer used similarly as it was back in 1962, which is when “Green Book” is set.
Mahershala Ali' statement:
“However well-intended or intellectual the conversation may have been, it wasn’t appropriate for Viggo to say the n-word. He has made it clear to me that he’s aware of this, and apologized profusely immediately following the Q&A with Elvis Mitchell. Knowing his intention was to express that removing the n-word from your vocabulary doesn’t necessarily disqualify a person as a racist or participating in actions or thoughts that are bigoted, I can accept and embrace his apology."
“An excellent and poignant thought was unfortunately overshadowed by voicing the word in its fullness. Which for me, is always hurtful. The use of the word within the black community has long been debated, and its usage should continue to be examined within the black community."
“The use of the word by those who aren’t black, is not up for debate. The history of discrimination, slavery, pain, oppression and violence that the word has come to symbolize only causes harm to members of the black community and therefore needs to be left in the past.”
“Green Book,” will be released in theaters next Friday, November 16.