People might say these are small peanuts, but language is never small. Language shapes how we view things before we even know we are viewing them. How we name something determines how we value it. If women’s last names are consistently absent from history, never passed down, then where is their—our—value? What Happened When We Gave Our Daughter My Last Name by Molly Caro May
There’s no such thing as a race-neutral college admissions policy in America. “Colorblind” just means the advantages and disadvantages are rendered invisible. Ten Myths About Affirmative Action

WHITE RAPPER FAQ Part 2

aamerrahman:

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This is a follow up to this post here: http://aamerrahman.tumblr.com/post/53978736048/white-rapper-faq

1. ARE YOU SAYING WHITE PEOPLE CAN’T LISTEN TO RAP?

Stop projecting your anxieties onto me.  You’re white.  You can do pretty much whatever you want. It’s a sweet deal.

2.  IF SOMEONE LOVES A CULTURE LIKE HIP-HOP, AREN’T THEY ALLOWED TO BE PART OF IT? BLACKFACE WAS ABOUT MOCKERY.  WHITE RAPPERS LOVE HIP-HOP, THAT’S WHY THEY MAKE RAP MUSIC.

Blackface wasn’t just about mockery.  It was an industry, a structured form of entertainment that allowed white people to benefit from their projections of black culture.  A key element was the ability to define blackness to a white audience and profit from this performance.  This whole issue is as much about the economic dimensions of white rap and its relationship to an audience as it is about the basic intentions behind it.

A white rapper like Iggy Azalea acts out signifiers which the white majority associates with black culture - hyper sexuality, senseless materialism, an obsession with drugs, money and alcohol – as well as adopting clothing, speech and music – as a costume that they can put on and discard at will.  It’s a cheap circus act.

3. WHY ARE YOU BLAMING THESE WHITE ARTISTS FOR BEHAVIOUR THAT IS REGULARLY CELEBRATED BY BLACK ARTISTS?

Supply only exists to meet demand.  In fact, the hyper-sexual,  materialist and misogynist trends we see in mainstream rap are a manifestation of the desires and imagination of a majority white consumer base.  In other words, these are the images of blackness white people want to see being reproduced for their entertainment and consumption.

This white fanbase has demanded increasingly fetishised images of black and brown people for almost 3 decades now - I mean seriously, I recently heard two white radio hosts (a man and a woman) discussing how much they wanted to touch Nicki Minaj’s ass to see whether it was real or not.  Like some kind of modern day Hottentot Venus.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_hottentot).

But while they are fundamental part of the shaping of commercial rap and its problematic imagery, white people take none of the blame.  The economic structure of the music industry dictates that black people do not control the production of rap music, but must simultaneously be held accountable for its problems and answer for all of its shortcomings.

3. WHY IS IT OK FOR AN ARTIST LIKE SCRIBE (FROM NEW ZEALAND) TO RHYME IN AN AMERICAN ACCENT BUT NOT SOMEONE LIKE IGGY AZALEA? THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT IGGY IS WHITE AND SCRIBE IS NOT.

Scribe and Iggy Azalea are not simply ‘different’ because of the colour of their skin.  Race is not just some cosmetic difference between people.   In this case it is the door to a discussion about class, history and culture.

Hip-hop was created and pioneered by people who had directly suffered colonisation, slavery, intergenerational poverty, criminalisation, drug epidemics, racial profiling, demonisation by media, over-policing and mass imprisonment.  Hip-hop has always naturally resonated with people around the world who have experienced similar things – just look at the rise of Arab/ Muslim Hip-Hop in the last decade (and across the 3rd World in general).

Scribe has actually grown up in a community directly affected by racism and poverty.  His American accent is in no way the type of appropriation being exercised by someone like Iggy Azalea, who basically impersonates her idea of a black woman for fun.

5. SO…

So if you participate in a culture built heavily on people’s experiences of racism but you have never experienced racism yourself, tread lightly.  Basically, everyone take a page out of Brother Ali’s book.  Last time I saw him live, he took a whole chunk out of his show to genuinely talk to the mostly white crowd about privilege, racism, colonialism and their part in it.  If you simply take from a culture without giving back to its legacy, or at least consistently acknowledging the people who pioneered it, you are a thief.

This ‘post-racial’ and ‘colour-blind’ idea that Hip-Hop ‘belongs to nobody,’ that ‘anyone can rap’ with no strings attached is basically to deny and delete the history of a culture.   Only an incredible sense of arrogance and white entitlement could lead someone to the conclusion that Hip-Hop’s roots as a rejection of violent oppression and racism are suddenly irrelevant, especially when those conditions still exist today.

6. YOU CALLED YOUR POST ‘WHITE RAPPERS FAQ.’ DID YOU REALLY MEAN ALL WHITE RAPPERS? WHAT ABOUT MACKLEMORE/ AESOP ROCK/ (INSERT CONSCIOUS WHITE RAPPER HERE)?

My first post was specifically about artists like Iggy Azalea and Kreashawn.  Of course there has always been a spectrum of white artists in Hip-Hop who engage with the art differently with different levels of respect and self-awareness (see Brother Ali above).  However, simply being conscious does not give you immunity to criticism or the right for people to question your presence and intent.  Regardless of how ‘conscious’ a white rapper might be, all the points in (2), (3), (4) and (5) still apply.

Also, for everyone who keeps screaming ‘Macklemore!’ at me, please explain this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H83YWalKuKc

7. WHAT ABOUT EMINEM?

I specifically didn’t talk about Eminem because Harry Allen (Public Enemy’s one time ‘Director of Enemy Relations’) wrote this amazing piece in The Source 10 years ago:

http://www.harryallen.info/docs/TheUnbearableWhitenessofEmceeing.pdf

Everything in that article is still 100% relevant and true, and yes - Eminem opened the door for all of this.

8. RE: FALLON/ TIMBERLAKE ‘HISTORY OF RAP’ - OH, SO YOU’RE SAYING THAT BLACK THOUGHT AND QUESTLOVE ARE TOO STUPID TO KNOW THEY ARE PART OF SOME MINSTREL SHOW?

No, I’m saying that capitalism means people have bills to pay and they end up in compromised positions.  It also means that talentless people are regularly rewarded over those with genuine ability.  So instead of being truly celebrated as a genius and being able to program his own 24-hour  music network, a pioneer like Questlove has to play drums on Jimmy Fallon’s show five nights a week.

Imagine how much smarter your kids would be if they grew up watching  Questlove TV instead of MTV.

* EDIT: Yeah, I photoshopped Elvis’s face onto Eminem. LOL.

This is what a real blowing up of body standards looks like. It is not a matter of adding one more characteristic to the list of things that it is acceptable to find attractive, one more bra, dress or inseam size, or five more years of age to the range of what is considered beautiful. Rather, a revolution is a person who looks nothing like what you have told yourself you find desirable and who evokes lust or admiration in you anyway. Prince Fielder, Laverne Cox and what it means to Challenge Standards of Beauty by Alyssa Rosenberg
There’s no relief or closure to the death penalty. It’s just death piled on top of more death, the final ugly act of a tragedy that begins with the original crime. It’s not cheaper. It’s not exactly a deterrent to murder (violent crime rates don’t appear to coincide with the number of people we put to death). And the idea that it could be used clumsily means that it should probably never be used at all. It’s a political tool used to make people feel safer, but there’s gotta be a better way of offering the public the illusion of security. Hire more cops. It’s cheaper than in-sourcing arsenic from Canada.

Jesus, Mad Men, Pull Yourself Together Already by Drew Magary

It’s just the way human social behavior works — if a message is repeated enough times, others will begin to accept it as a commonly held belief in the group. In fact, studies have found that if just one person repeats the same opinion three times, it has a whopping 90 percent chance of converting three different people in the group to have the same opinion. 6 Creepy Brainwashing Techniques You Can Use Today by Paul K. Pickett & Lesia Pickett
The other reason cameras (both photographic and video) give us a “weird” version of us is that human eyes and camera lenses work differently. This is another thing that’s easy to forget — there is no objective way that any thing looks. It all comes down to how the eye or machine viewing it processes the reflected light. You look weird through a camera lens, but you’d find that you’d look even weirder if you could, for instance, see yourself through your cat’s eyes. It’s more than beauty that’s in the eye of the beholder — it’s everything. 5 Bizarre Things Your Body Does (Explained by Science) by Josh Hrala & Ivan Farkas