Massachusetts rapper Joyner Lucas has released a viral video that is dividing opinion with some people labelling it “the most important video of the year”. For listeners who are familiar with Lucas’s work, we are normally exposed to the rapper shooting darts at some of today’s well known MC’s, delivered in a way Eminem showcased back in the early 2000’s. The controversial video opens with a white man in a “Make America Great Again” hat ticking off a series of racist euphemisms. The visuals for this music video no doubt make it uncomfortable viewing for some, as Joyner Lucas lets the profanities prevail and the misconceptions fly.
One of the major issues with division in society is opposing sides don’t really take time to listen to one another. In an effort for people to be able to hear both sides, ‘I’m Not Racist’ manages to dedicate verses from both perspectives. For years racism wasn’t a focused topic in the news until recently when Donald Trump took office, it served as the stimulant for a cultural shift. The loyal base of nationalist’s gravitated towards Trump’s tendencies, and we’ve seen a social progression become more unstable especially towards subjects like race. Movements emerged like “Black Lives Matter” to raise awareness on police brutality, prompting many on the other side to counter act with “All Lives Matter”. The past year has been thick with tension, with talk of border walls, anti-immigration bills, and genuine race riots firing up in Charlottesville. A 32 year old woman by the name of Heather Heyer even lost her life after being run down by a white supremacist.
With all these headlines transpiring this year, it’s no wonder Lucas’s video ‘I’m Not Racist’ has become even more powerful. The track has already landed Lucas a feature on CNN, who described the clip as being “peppered with racial stereotypes and cuss words.” More importantly, they label it the “brutal race conversation nobody wants to have.” Sure they’re probably right about the first, but they’re totally wrong about the second. People now days are more open and willing to come forth and have this conversation in the public eye, and the 12 million plus views and the overwhelming response to “I’m Not Racist” is a testament to that.
Sure there’s going to be some people that say this video is controversial, and there is going to be some that say it’s offensive, but as the song try’s to deliver, there are two sides to every story. As a person of colour over the years I’ve come across my fair share of racist comments and remarks. For people with thick skin, it’s probably something you could absorb and laugh off, for someone like myself it can make you feel like being ‘you’ just isn’t good enough, and being a person of color is a burden more then anything. I remember growing up hearing things like “Michael Jackson wanted to turn white, so he changed his skin colour”, if this had any truth to it at all, maybe people should of stopped to think that the psychological factor of racism actually got to him.
It’s appropriate that Lucas essentially ended the year with this video, a New Year often comes with a desire to reform, and ending it with the mere concept of resolution suggests a willingness to cause change. Hopefully one day we’ll have an understanding, and as this bleak video ends on a positive note with the two men depicted hugging it out to Joyner Lucas’s last rhyme:
“I’m not racist, but there’s two sides to every story and now you know mine
Can’t erase the scars with a bandage
I’m hoping maybe we can come to an understanding
Agreed or disagreed, we could have an understanding.”
And in this some what divided world, that would be a start….