India Arie has softened her position on Joe Rogan.
Last week, multi-time Grammy-Award winner India Arie posted two videos on her Instagram page containing clips of Joe Rogan using controversial language tied to race. The clips were from past episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience, in some cases from several years ago.
In the first video, Rogan can be heard saying “ni**er” multiple times. In her Instagram post, Arie commented on this compilation by stating that she knows what it is like to be a victim of hand-picked clips being taken out of context for the sake of sensationalism. And though she conceded that Rogan could have been the victim of the same thing, that did not change her position that Rogan shouldn’t have said the word at all in any context.
In the second video containing a clip from over a decade ago, Rogan compares his arrival to an all-black neighborhood to being in “Planet of the Apes” as he was en route to watch the actual film Planet of the Apes.
After playing back this video, Arie shifted the conversation to Spotify, stating that if the platform insists on paying Rogan $100 million in spite of him saying such things, then they should remove her music if they will simultaneously pay working artists pennies.
India Arie Accepts Joe Rogan’s Apology
Although Spotify has stood steadfast by Rogan’s side through this controversy as well as the “deadly misinformation” controversy, they did decide to invest $100 million to historically marginalized groups. This decision came after Arie had a conversation with Spotify on the issue. However, it is unclear if this conversation was the sole or even primary reason behind Spotify’s decision to make this investment.
While there are no reports of a change in Arie’s position of having her music removed from Spotify, she did take a different tone when discussing Rogan. The R&B legend had some complimentary words about Joe Rogan’s apology for the use of “the N-Word” in an appearance on CNN.
“I have to say, I do think he did a fine job with his apology,” Arie said. “He said a lot of the things I would want to hear someone say. The thing that stuck out for me most was when he said, ‘It’s not my word to use.’ And I think change behavior is what we’re really looking for. If it went all the way to allyship, that would be wonderful. But also, change behavior would be wonderful, too.”
Arie went on to reiterate that she had no issue with Joe Rogan’s podcast because she could simply opt not to listen to it. However, the issue became unavoidable for her when she considered the wide gap in pay Rogan is receiving from Spotify despite some of his past language on race.
But as far as the specific use of the N-Word goes, Arie does not believe that alone makes Rogan a racist.
“I know why [black people] use [the “N-word”], but explaining that to everyone every time is not where I want to be or anybody should have to be. We should just be able to say, ‘Just don’t.’ And also, I don’t think that Joe Rogan is racist for using it. I think he’s insensitive for using it. So just don’t.”
While Arie has not met Rogan, other African-Americans who know Rogan more directly have also vouched for him not being a racist despite his N-word usage. This includes Rashad Evans and Terrence McKee among others. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was one notable figure who did pull his support, but it is unclear which of Rogan’s resurfaced videos prompted this denouncement from Johnson.