I don’t care if Macklemore isn’t being a good ally, and Hip Hop doesn’t get a free pass.

6 Mar

Macklemore speaks of hip hop as if his whiteness is irrelevant when criticizing the genre as a whole for being homophobic. These lyrics are very reminiscent of much of the shaming of people of color that occurred in 2008 after the passing of Prop 8 in California, where Black people and Latin@s were accused of being responsible for the anti-gay legislation passing, while seemingly ignoring the millions of dollars raised by white Christians to ban marriage equality. Race + Hip-Hop + LGBT Equality: On Macklemore’s White Straight Privilege

Let’s be fair here. White people, black people, and Latinos have ALL been abhorrent to gay people in America in their own unique and wonderful cultural ways.

But I find that, on the subject of Macklemore and his whiteness, that he doesn’t have to atone for being white for speaking out against homophobia in hip hop any more than Chinua Achebe needs to atone for not being European for criticizing Joseph Conrad’s novel as racist.

Hip hop doesn’t get a free pass here. Popular hip hop embraced the homophobia of the white rapper Eminem and nobody had a problem with his whiteness then, but a white rapper now condemns the homophobia in hip hop and all of a sudden I’m expected to ask for the dude’s papers.  Sorry, I don’t care if Macklemore isn’t the perfect ally you want him to be, but the truth is I would have given my left leg to have Macklemore back in the day rapping about what’s-what, to have Frank Ocean crooning soft bi ballads in my tough hip-hop loving friend’s ears, and to have Jay Z and 50 Cent give their support to gay marriage to the horror of my closeted school.

I went to a low income ghetto school, and I had hip-hop forced on me, and it was very hard for me to see the art form through the hate at the time. I rebelled to rock music, but only really started appreciating hip hop when its macho posturing wasn’t something I was forced to listen to. I was introduced to homo hip-hop by a good friend, and I loved it and started appreciating all of the gangsta rap I had hated in my youth.

I’m not at all a super fan of Macklemore’s music, but its apparent to me that he’s coming from a place where the “we” in rap includes the white artists and the white fans.  He’s talking about the “us” of youth when he raps about homophobia.

I love talking about race in America, and privilege, but I think we can get a little too mixed up in what person owes what to whom. If  Macklemore is right, then he’s right. If an artist speaks the truth, then that’s that. Attack the man’s message, not the man’s race or sexuality.


One Response to “I don’t care if Macklemore isn’t being a good ally, and Hip Hop doesn’t get a free pass.”

  1. chris May 15, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    Forced on you? theres thousands of rap artists not named eminem, i know some rappers used gay slurs and what not, but really i havent heard anti gay themes in any rap songs since e or late 90s,. And he wasnt even anti gay, the context of the word fag when he used it wasnt meant to make gays angry, it was more of protest to the main way, and like an artist he got the reaction out of society. Just like an artist that takes nude photos of children, they arent child molestors they are trying to challenge views, which is why its legal in only those cases.

    Though a side note, macklemore sucks as a rapper, people like lupe fiasco or tito lopez, or kendrick lamar, etc, all have very positive messages, very creatiive lyrics with metaphores , themes, and wordplay etc, yet people are placing macklemore on this pedestal as if hes the only rapper to have a positive message, idk if it has to do with him being white, or how mainstream he actually is compared to a lupe, but hes not that great.

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