Rachel Jeantel: When Rush Limbaugh Says 'N--ga' It's Racist

Controversial George Zimmerman prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel told CNN's Piers Morgan Monday that the word "n--ga" - when ending with an "a" and not "er" - isn't racist.

Yet in an interview with HuffPost Live Wednesday, Jeantel said it was racist when conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said it (transcripts and commentary follow):

After Jeantel told host Marc Lamont Hill that she didn't know who Limbaugh was, he played her a clip of something Limbaugh said Tuesday:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH: So “nigga” with an a on the end. Well I think I can now. Isn’t that the point? Because it’s not racist. That’s the point. I could be talking about a male. I could be, a Chinese male. A guy at the Laundromat. I could be talking about a man. That’s what she said it means.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARC LAMONT HILL: What would you say to him?

RACHEL JEANTEL: Well, when you say it out loud in person in front of people, that's disrespectful. Nigga is a, I’m not going to say my kind of way. It is racist for an adult. Why teenagers use it? I don’t know.

HILL: You say it’s racist when an adult. Does it matter whether the adult is black or white?

JEANTEL: Yes!

HILL: So if a black adult says it, is it racist?

JEANTEL: A black adult. A adult like who has…

HILL: Let me ask you differently. When you heard him, when you heard Rush Limbaugh say it just then, did it feel racist to you?

JEANTEL: Well, yes. [Laughs]

HILL: It sounded racist to me, too.

JEANTEL: Yes, but I can't judge him. Did I said it on television yesterday? Yes. I don’t mean you supposed to say it out loud. That’s a cuss word. Cracka’s a cuss word, too. Like saying another cuss word. That’s cuss word. That’s disrespectful. And I won’t use it in front of an adult. No. I kept it honest with the jury. That’s how teenagers talk. Not in front of your face. But we talk like that.

So on Wednesday, "nigga" and "cracka" are "cuss words."


Quite different from what she told Morgan Monday evening:

PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Let's talk about creepy ass cracker. People have said that that is a phrase used by black people, cracker, to describe a white person. Is that true?

JEANTEL: No. Like I said --

MORGAN: How do you spell it, first of all?

JEANTEL: Cracker. Well --

MORGAN: There's no E-R, right? It's --

JEANTEL: No. It's A at the end.

MORGAN: C-R-A-C-K-A?

JEANTEL: Yes, and that's a person who act like they are police, who like (INAUDIBLE), who acting like, that's what I said to them. Trayvon said creepy ass cracka.

MORGAN: It means he thought it was a policeman or a security guy.

JEANTEL: Yes. Who's acting like a policeman and then he keeps telling me that the man still watch him. So if it was a security guard or a policeman, they would come up to Trayvon and say, do you have -- do you need -- do you have a problem, do you need help? You know, like normal people. [...]


MORGAN: Was there anything you wished you had said, right, when you finished and you went home and you saw the reaction, and everyone giving you a hard time. So was there anything you wished you have said when you were in there?

JEANTEL: Nigga.

MORGAN: Why?

JEANTEL: People -- the whole world say it's a racist word. Mind you -- mind you, around 2000, that was not. They changed it around, I think. It started spelling it n-i-g-g-a. Nigga.

MORGAN: What does that mean to you, that -- that way of spelling it? What does that word mean to you?

JEANTEL: That means a male.

MORGAN: A black male?

JEANTEL: No, any kind of male.

MORGAN: Black or white?

JEANTEL: Any kind -- Chinese could say nigga. That's my Chino nigga. They could say that.

MORGAN: And rappers and everything use it in the music? And that's what they mean?

JEANTEL: They all say it. Yes, but nigger -- I advise you not to be by black people, because they're not going to have it like that.

MORGAN: Why?

JEANTEL: Because that's the racist word.

MORGAN: They're two different words.

JEANTEL: Yes.

MORGAN: And they have just different meanings in -- in your community?

JEANTEL: No, in a generation...

MORGAN: To young people, you mean?

JEANTEL: ...not young people. Old people use that, too.


So on Monday, "nigga" isn't racist at all - for young or old people to say it. Just a male.

But by Wednesday, Jeantel changed her tune claiming it's "racist," "disrespectful," and a "cuss word," especially when someone such as Rush Limbaugh - who she claimed she'd never heard of - says it.

As a humorous aside, Limbaugh cautioned a caller Wednesday to not try using the word "nigga" in a public setting.

It appears he was right.

(HT Dan Gainor)

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.