I’m a White chick who raps, is heavy into hip-hop, and writes about hip-hop culture. The other day, a friend told me “I should have been born Black.” I paused at the comment, and thought, “Well, God made me White, but yes I do have a love for things that are seen as being predominantly ‘Black.’” But the thing is, I’m not Black, I’m White, and being White involves a certain level of privilege that many people are blind, deaf, and dumb to.
Kovie Biakolo wrote a piece for Thought Catalog that expressed everything I was feeling but didn’t have the knowledge-set, ability or courage to say. She talks about her concerns regarding White people as a Black woman, and funnily enough, I had the exact same concerns as a White woman.
Color does not divide us if we do not let it. My love for hip-hop culture began with an affinity for the beats and lyrical mastery, which is something that most people can and should acknowledge about the genre. But I truly fell in love with it upon the acknowledgement that hip-hop was the only musical genre really revealing the truth about societal woes.
Macklemore tackles the concept of White privilege in his newly released track “White Privilege II” with Ryan Lewis and Jamila Woods. Going on for more than 8 minutes, Macklemore paints a picture of what being White and caring about the Black Lives Matter movement looks like. He also describes the subjugation of the genre by some White people, saying, “We take all we want from Black culture, but will we show up for Black lives?”
While advocating for a group that is not of your own identity may feel slightly uncomfortable at first, recognizing the differences between how White and Black people are treated in society is necessary for social growth. Ignoring it is the equivalent of taking an ostrich approach and sticking your head in the sand.
I am very well aware that rapping is originally a Black art form, and I am so grateful for those people who have embraced my rapping despite the color of my skin. When I realized I loved to rap, I felt admittedly slightly uneasy about being White and freestyling in front of others. Alone in my bedroom I could do it, but once I started performing in public spaces and for friends, it was an obstacle I had to overcome.
I advocate a lot for different social causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement. Rapping aside, I am a human being, and I recognize the gross mistreatment of many different demographics. Whether it’s the lack of representation of the Black community at the Oscars, or the continuous shootings of Black men and women in the United States by police, I can’t highlight enough the importance for people of any race, but particularly White, of getting involved in the movement.
Macklemore’s description of White privilege, much like Biakolo’s article, is on point. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. Despite the fact that my beliefs often make certain White people I interact with uncomfortable, I know different.
Talib Kweli got into a Twitter dialogue with Iggy Azalea on the subject matter and in it, he suggests to her that she respect the OGs who came before her so that she can participate in the culture now. I couldn’t agree more, and I personally as a White rapper have an immense respect for the people who came before me and built the culture up to be the inclusive game it is today.
As a kid, I never saw color. Everyone was equal to me and I didn’t even see White privilege, let alone think it existed until I hit my 20s. I was smart, but clearly uneducated where it mattered. When I recognized the incredible injustice that exists in our dualistic world, I was pissed off, and very vocal. Once you see it, you can’t go back to boxing your head in and pretending it doesn’t exist.
Culture is a beautiful thing. It doesn’t need to be a divisive line to cross, but one that you acknowledge you are crossing when you do. I get comments like my friend’s from the other day all the time and have gotten used to it. Some people see culture along separate lines and perpetuate inequality through their inability to think outside of their own cultural identities.
White privilege is a very real thing and Macklemore’s latest release does a fitting job of approaching the issue from a White perspective.
I love people from a wide cross-section of cultures. When I started dating men outside of my immediate community, I got a lot of negative attention from certain people in my life at the time. Eventually, their lack of awareness led to my parting ways with a lot of people I once called friends.
Turns out I may not be Black, but I have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who does not accept my affiliations outside of White culture.
Dr. King had a dream, and in 2016, we can only hope to fully realize that dream if we face what our world looks like today head-on. White privilege or not, if you don’t “show up for Black lives” as Macklemore put it, then what do you really stand for at the end of the day?
A human being is a human being, regardless of color. It’s time that our world reflect that sentiment and face the ugly truths that exist still in modern society.
Saying that Black Lives Matter and believing it does not mean you are saying that White lives don’t matter, but rather that you acknowledge the deeply rooted inequalities in our world and you are willing to raise your voice in order to change the course of cultural history.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty