Obvious anti-black appropriation
The gut reaction for most people seems to be to question if the "Niga" which is added to Higa's surname for his alias, is meant to be a thinly veiled attempt to stylize himself as a "cool nigga Ryan Higa - nigahiga" type persona?
Regardless of whether Higa intended this, he has clearly seen the benefits of this name. Here in the video below we see him prior to his fame, explaining the meaning of his name, with a pool of other YouTubers whose names and content did not take them so far:
Firstly, the insult of denying appropriation is enough to class this as a problem if the act was intentional.
However, it's impossible to know if it was intentional.
Records from Higa on the name imply that Niga means "rant" in Japanese.
However, no such word exists and the closest word 苦さ (niga-sa) means 'bitterness' and is based on the root 苦 (kǔ), putting heavy doubt on this thin veil of a ruse.
It would be fine if he would just admit that he thought it was a clever way to kinda say the n-word without technically saying it. and not only that, but encouraging more people to say it through his own publicity. Complicit in the normalisation of those harmful two syllables in a country whose racial history is still a very open wound.
It's childish and it's selfish, tbh. How hard would it be to change your name to RyanHiga and put this farce behing you? But you won't, because you know that the controversy of your name fuels your brand, so you have no incentive to actually reflect and grow, and every incentive to troll and ridicule the suggestion that your name was an intentional appropriation of rap culture in hopes to gain the same sort of cultural elevation that black celebrities can have in a whyte-dominant media landscape.
Until nbpoc struggling to gain prominence recognise that being non-whyte does not mean they aren't racist, and specifically anti-black. Black culture is the most copied and appropriated culture in the world and it's because we are the mother culture, we are many, groups with ancient histories and traditions that even centuries of colonial savagery tearing us from our land and chaining us into boats couldn't erase.
Don't appropriate a curse word that has never been used to demean you, and then reap the benefits of its gentrification once we reclaim it. If your ancestors chanted for the lynching of our ancestors, and screamed that word at our limp bodies once we'd been killed. Then that word can stay the fuck out of your mouth.
His response is to dminish the harm of a "joke" and also to stress that since his Okinawan surname "Higa" is pronounced "HEE-ga" not "HIGGA" then anyone who assumes a racist meaning to his name is actually the racist one.
Now, that kind of backflipping is frustrating but the way he then engages into a discussion of the need to allow people to grow out of juvenile bigotry is well presented, so I felt like giving him more of a chance and the video was pretty funny especially at the end when I couldn't help but laugh and enjoy it.
However, the joke was again to use a black person as a prop to boost his own prominence through proximity to blackness for the edginess it gives his persona, but then in no way working towards dismantling anti-black attitudes once he's got his platform.
Instead, the only video he makes is one in which he (admittedly) defends someone being accused of racism. Because he's more concerned that today "being accused of racism" is a huge deal, and that that needs to be the focus here.
The fact is, that he's not the problem. He's right. How many people of his age and class background in the USA have never made a racist joke in the privacy of their own home? And the ones who haven't, like he says are probably pretty high and mighty about it.
If we approach racial dialogues from the perspective that we ALL have growing to do, then I think it could be much much more beneficial.
I don't hold shade over this person, despite how it must look with these paragraphs about him, but I'm more just in a flow of changing my opinions about appropriative acts and learning from them rather than attacking people who do it, etc, which ends up alienating people from your message, etc.
Personally, I think Justin Bieber is more forgiveable for his stuff because he was literrally a teenager and the footage was never intended to be seen (no excuse for saying it, but kids don't think about consequences as deeply), whereas Ryan Higa is at least 21 now and he can change his damn name if he really wants to be respectful, but instead he loves the controversy and makes up reasons for his choice of name when we know damn well why you chose it.
But then I just watched another video and I like him haha. He semi identifies as an "ADHD type" <3 and he loves puns and can't concentrate sometimes on what people are saying because he's focussing on a great pun for something they said a minute ago! :P
But yeah, doesn't surprise me or change the fact that appropriating black pain for YouTube views is not ok.
Just watched more and he's so likeable, but he uses that to get away with things you wouldn't let someone else do. Like his crude accents than are done in that casually racist tone that implies a "simpleton": (See 4m 58s)
I don't believe he is "a racist" in any intentional sense, I don't like to focus so much on individuals like this. But I do feel like he is allowing himself to be racially ignorant, and I'd like to see him grow over the years to come. :)
I do like him, haha. :) <3
x Sɛφh Q.
Higa was born on June 6, 1990 at an unknown time in Hilo (Hawaii), USA. This day corresponds to an astrological signature of Gemini sun, Scorpio or Sagittarius moon and an unknown rising sign. Within his Pluto in Scorpio generation, Higa was born during the Eastern Year of the Horse (Metal) and with his Lunar North Node in Aquarius.
- "In the animal kingdom, great white sharks must keep moving constantly or they will suffocate and die. This is an apt metaphor for people born under the Primal Zodiac sign of the same name. Members of this sign are the most restless of the Primal Zodiac and need a constant stream of new experiences to keep them mentally healthy. This is a very outgoing sign that never tires of new people, places, and adventures.
- Great White Sharks are extremely social and love to talk almost as much as they love to be talked about. In truth, Great Whites are a bit self-centered and have little interest in subjects that don’t at least indirectly affect them. They don’t intend to be rude, it’s just that they have so many interests and such a lust for life that they don’t want to feel bogged down by anything outside of their immediate scope of thought. They do have tempers, though, which come out when they are either bored or not getting what they want. Great Whites can be downright mean spirited when they are having an “off” day. Luckily this doesn’t happen too often."
06/06/1990 [= 6 + 6 + 19 [= 6 + 6 + 1 [= 13 [= Lp4
- "The Life Path 4 suggests that you entered this plane with a natural genius for planning, fixing, building, and somehow, with practical application and cerebral excellence, making things work. You are one of the most trustworthy, practical, and down-to-earth of individuals; the cornerstone members of society. Indeed, as a Life Path 4, you are a builder of society. The cream of the crop in this Life Path can be a master builder in society. if you are among these highly talented people, you have an idealistic nature which is grounded in practical terms, allowing you to conceive grandiose, far-reaching schemes and carry them through to the end. If you desire and are willing to work for it, you can achieve enormous success, prestige, and fame. [...]
- The negative side of the 4 can prove dogmatic to an excess, narrow-minded, and repressive. A lot of skin-deep people turn you off, and you lack the tact to keep your feelings from being totally clear to all around. Additionally, the negative 4 has a bad tendency to get caught up in the daily routine of affairs, missing the big picture and major opportunities that come along once in a while."
np = 1913 [= 14 [= Lp5