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Twitter emotions on high alert after Justin Timberlake calls Madonna his 'ninja'

Justin Timberlake and Madonna pose for a picture during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 28, 2003 in New York City.
Justin Timberlake and Madonna pose for a picture during the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on August 28, 2003 in New York City.
Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

Replace the "er" with "a." Change the word to "ninja." Don't use the word at all. Everybody can use it. The n-word is a complex topic, and there are extremely different reactions depending on who is asked about the word.

When Justin Timberlake wished Madonna a happy birthday via Twitter, the reaction he got made him delete the tweet, but it can't make people delete their opinion of the tweet.

His tweet said: "@jtimberlake: A HAPPIEST of Bdays to my mother chucking ninja, @Madonna!! Hope you have a great one, M!"

From referring to Justin Timberlake as a "basic cable Caucasian" to lecturing him about being "too rich to be this stupid," J.T. realized his "black pass" was about to be revoked quicker than when he went AWOL after the Janet Jackson Super Bowl controversy. This was coming from the J.T. that soul singers loved to love, not the one egging homes and getting caught making racist jokes on camera. Some Twitter users just weren't vibing with the idea of him calling someone a "ninja," a less commonly used alternative to the n-word.

The most popular reaction to his tweet seemed to be a matter of bad timing. As one Twitter user said, "Justin Timberlake chose *this* week to call Madonna 'my ninja'? I just can't."

With emotions at their highest since the Trayvon Martin case, Twitter users are monitoring any and all news about Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. This is in addition to police officers shooting down Ezell Ford from South Los Angeles, California, who was also surrendering to cops, and the choking death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York City. Now whether his tweet would've gone over better if people weren't relentlessly monitoring three racially based cases at the same time is anybody's guess.

But maybe his tweet was much more innocent than it seemed. Another Twitter user tried to put it all into perspective by associating the term with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film: "For the record @jtimberlake was talking bout raphael u know #TMNTmovie just came out. So he picked it up. They call raphael chucking ninja."

The problem isn't just people's opinion of whether black people are being too sensitive about the n-word or the too-close-for-comfort term "ninja," but Madonna's own reputation for using the n-word with her son, Rocco Ritchie.

In an Instagram post of Rocco boxing, her caption read: "No one messes with Dirty Soap. Mama said knock you out! #disnigga."

So even if J.T. was referring to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it's difficult to rationalize that with someone who is so comfortable using the n-word to describe her own son.

Of course others feel like there are more important things going on in the world than J.T. referring to the pop singer as a "ninja" and then deleting the tweet. The one-dimensional crowd that believes others can only take on one issue at a time are spamming comment boards all over Facebook. No matter what the post is about, if it's not about what they're concerned about, the comment section is ridiculing publications for talking about any other entertainment, local or national news.

Strange enough, this same group doesn't seem to be too thrilled with the idea of just ignoring those unrelated posts and moving on to an online or print publication talking about what they want to discuss. And J.T. is at the bottom of the totem pole for what their current interests are. Fair enough. But it doesn't change the merit of discussion on the ongoing n-word debate. No one's emotions are more important than another's.

Contrary to popular belief, not all African-American people embrace the n-word, specifically the older generations. However, there are some in the Generation X and Y group, usually more savvy when it comes to African-American history, who just aren't feeling the idea of anybody using the n-word or variations of it. But still others adamantly argue that words only hold the power that they are given, and regardless of the past definition of it, a simple change in spelling somehow magically erases all of the word's history.

J.T. chose to try to avoid the argument he'd have gotten into had he left the tweet up. But as with many celebrities with "oops" moments, the damage is done. He may still get the "pass" he's always gotten in the R&B world for being incredibly talented. His vocal opposition to the Donald Sterling controversy certainly helps his fans defend him. Or, others may wonder how he really views people when the spotlight isn't on him.

Shamontiel is also The Wire Examiner, and for the gladiators, she's the Scandal Examiner, too.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all of her latest TV, book, music and movie reviews; photo galleries; entertainment saving tips and other entries, or subscribe to her National African American Entertainment channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her @BlackHealthNews, and follow this Pinterest board to read her celebrity interviews.