You don't get a hall pass to use the n-word, even if Kanye says so
On Thursday, Timberland cut all ties with APC after founder Jean Touitou made some pretty racially insensitive comments during a AW15 menswear presentation titled LAST Ni##@$ IN PARIS. You can catch up with the full story here. Now Touitou has issued a formal apology for his actions.
In a statement sent to GQ, Touitou said: "When describing our brand's latest collaboration, I spoke recklessly using terms that were both ignorant and offensive. I apologize and am deeply regretful for my poor choice of words, which are in no way a reflection of my personal views."
During the presentation, Touitou introduced a series of looks as "the sweet spot when the hood meets Bertolucci's movie Last Tango in Paris. So that's "N****s in Paris" and Last N****s in Paris" – repeatedly dropping the n-word in the process. He also referred to Timberland boots as "a very strong ghetto signifier".
Timberland immediately pulled the plug on its relationship with APC, despite its upcoming collaboration. "Simply stated, this kind of language and approach is in complete contrast with our values," a statement from the brand read. "Timberland seeks to collaborate with designers and brands who are at the forefront of lifestyle trends; equally important, they must also share our values. We will not tolerate offensive language or racial slurs of any kind being associated with the Timberland brand."
Touitou initially defended his use of the n-word, saying that he had sent a preview of the looks (including its title) to Kanye West, who gave him the thumbs up. But even Kanye is less-than-clear on when and where it's appropriate for white people to use the word.
In 2012, he ruminated on Twitter: "If n***a is such a positive word, why do we feel so uncomfortable for white people to say it, even with a hall pass? Is it ok to use bitch as long as we put BAD in front of it? Like you a BAD BITCH. Perhaps the words BITCH and N**** are now neither positive or negative. They are just potent and it depends on how the are used and by whom? #FREETHOUGHT."
Potent, sure – but if you're Jean Touitou, it's probably for all the wrong reasons.
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