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Donald Glover says he used ‘white translator’ to get N-word in ‘Atlanta’

Donald glover thegrio.com

(Getty images)

Donald Glover had to use a “white translator” to talk to FX about the use of the N-word in Atlanta.

In a profile by The New Yorker, Glover revealed that he had encountered pushback about the use of the word in his pilot. He wanted to keep the word in for authenticity, while the network wanted it out.

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They offered a “compromise position” that the word could be used in some cases by white characters, something that Glover found patently ridiculous.

“I’m black, making a very black show, and they’re telling me I can’t use the N-word! Only in a world run by white people would that happen,” Glover said.

Ultimately, he was able to convince the executives to let him use the word through the use of what he called a “white translator:” executive producer Paul Simms. Simms was able to convince FX that Glover was bring authenticity to his show, and since then, Atlanta has been able to reflect Glover’s vision better.

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This practice isn’t new to Black creators, either. Kenya Barris, the creator of Black-ish weighed in on the idea of a “white translator,” admitting that it was fairly common for Black creators to use a white go-between.

“You need the translator for the three-minute call after the meeting,” Barris explained. “It’s for when the execs call the white guy to say, ‘What exactly did Kenya mean there?,’ and to be reassured.”

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Using the N-word on television

The profile also discussed the use of the N-word in different shows. For example, Black-ish and similar shows use the word and then discuss its use, while Atlanta uses it casually.

Glover said that was a conscious choice, since in real life, it isn’t the big discussion it’s made out to be on television.

“No black people talk to each other like that, or need to. It’s all for white people,” Glover said.

Glover might just be on to something, too, considering the fact that his audience is half Black, while Black-ish has a one-fifth Black audience.

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