There are some people who find it almost too easy to stay out of controversy. It’s very unlikely that any of those people are Gina Rodriguez.
Per USA Today, the Jane The Virgin star took to Instagram earlier this afternoon for an impromptu karaoke session, live from her seat in the hair and makeup department. Her song of choice: “Ready Or Not” by the Fugees, which is a timeless classic and an excellent pick. What wasn’t so excellent, unfortunately, was the lyric she chose to rap along to, originally perfected by Lauryn Hill: “Voodoo/I can do what you do, easy, believe me/ Fronting [n-word] give me hee-bee-gee-bees.” And in a move that could only serve to further confirm to her aversion to good decision-making, she posted the incident on her public Instagram account so that everyone could watch along in abject horror.
What she failed to capture in the short, now-deleted video was the veritable buffet of alternative choices at her disposal, including choosing a different lyric that didn’t contain the term, exercising a modicum of restraint by skipping the word entirely, choosing a different song, or just not recording anything and allowing the nice makeup and hair professionals to do their jobs in peace. One would assume that a person who has had repeated issues with race (while claiming that they want to be better) would find any option more desirable than posting a video of themselves saying the n-word—in any context—on the immortal internet. Yet, here we are.
The incident garnered instant backlash, to which Rodriquez responded with an “apology” that doesn’t directly address the specific transgression, but tosses a “sorry” to anyone potentially offending by her “singing along to the Fugees.” Maybe this apology would work if the offense in question was singing a Fugees song, but it wasn’t.
Rodriguez is no stranger to controversy when it comes to her incredibly shaky history with the Black community, from spreading false information regarding the pay disparity that women in Hollywood face to actively diminishing a compliment made to Yara Shahidi, who was praised for acting as a role model to young Black women. She has even addressed the repeated backlash against her on the radio show Sway In The Morning, where she tearfully spoke about looking to the Black community during her formative years: “If I have hurt you, I am sorry and I will always be sorry, but you have to know that, until you know my heart, there’s no way that we can live off clickbait, you guys. You are allowed to feel pain and I empathize with your pain, and I’m sorry if I caused your pain because it is the last thing I want to do … We don’t need to fight each other and if I caused that notion, please forgive me because that is not my intent at all.” So her choices to voluntarily return to the spotlight in this manner and refusing to issue a decent apology are particularly questionable, especially for little more than a round of “likes” on social media.
It reminds us of another classic Lauryn Hill lyric: “It could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard.”