Thursday, May 29, 2008

Myspace and the "N" Word

(Sent this letter to myspace 5/29/08)

To Whom It May Concern:

As a regular Myspace user, and a Black American author and cultural critic, I’ve used Myspace to assist in the promotion of my podcast and two books. It has been a wonderful marketing tool that I’d like to continue to use. However, each time I log onto this wonderful site, I’ve found myself accosted by derogatory, racially-charged display names toward other Black Americans.

Whether the terms Nigger, Nigga, or any derivative thereof are used as Myspace display names by Blacks or nonblacks is irrelevant—the infrastructure of this term is founded on hatred, segregation, and derived from Southern United States which still struggles to get past such prejudice. Should I mention the West Virginia Megan Williams case?

During my research conducted on 5/29/08, I’ve discovered:
• approximately 428 pages (10 users per page) with the display name of “Nigga”—totaling 4280 users
• approximately 144 pages (10 users per page), with the display name of “Nigger”—totaling 1440 users

According to the Myspace Terms of Service (TOS), a user is violating the TOS when:

• (Section 8.1) is patently offensive and promotes racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual; 

• (Section 8.4) contains nudity, excessive violence, or offensive subject matter or contains a link to an adult website

According to Section 8.1 and 8.4, these users and others are violating the TOS. These words are offensive, promotes racism, bigotry, and hatred toward a group of people. These users also violate the TOS because their pages contain offensive subject matter with such language.

One would argue that these abrasive words have morphed into terms of endearment in various (black) communities. However, again, reviewing the site, the users with these display names come from a large number of backgrounds. I’m bound to believe that if display names defaming other ethnicities (besides Black Americans) were used, Myspace would correct the situation.

I urge you to help educate the youth about the inappropriateness of such hate-filled terms by requesting these individuals to change their display names or have the display names unwillingly reassigned.


Stephen Earley Jordan II
Author of “Beyond Bougie” and “Cold, Black, and Hungry”
Host and Cultural Critic of “The Bougie Black Show”