So, Macklemore has since come out and announced that he feels Kendrick was robbed for Best Rap Album at the Grammys. What he says is absolutely heartfelt and true. But, did he say this while he received the actual award? Is he going to give it back because he feels he doesn’t deserve it? Is he going to speak out against the politics behind why it was that he got the award and Kendrick didn’t? In short, is he actually going to do anything to challenge and call out what he claims he feels is “wrong”? Or is he gonna sit pretty “knowing” while Kendrick still experiences the snub?
This is ultimately my issue with “Privilege” politics and culture, and with Macklemore. I don’t mindlessly hate Macklemore. It isn’t that I don’t think he is talented or isn’t saying cool shit-if you followed me at my old blog back in the day, I sung his praises years before he got famous because of his song about “White Privilege”. With that song, I heard a white dude knowing that while he loves hip hop, he is operating within a system that privileges him and is biased in his favor, and every move is loaded. It is a song in which he is holding himself accountable. But nowadays, he isn’t doing that so much. He’s just grandstanding and taking advantage of everyone and everything and letting the praise roll in, all without without calling out the culture of ignorance, hate, and whitewashing that he has inspired and lead.
Meanwhile, people from the actual marginalized communities that he is taking from say the same things, he’s now taken upon himself to say as a white savior, except from a place of personal experience and identity, and don’t get the same visibility or accolades because we’re still too angry, too radical, we don’t coddle those in power enough. He’s Tim Wising the fuck out of our struggles.
And all the while, he doesn’t experience any of the drama and the backlash or the hate inherent with being the Other. There’s a new pushback in culture against hip hop, against rap, against Black folk, and I’ve been seeing white people finding new ways to discriminate against Black styles of music and culture or to tokenize hip hop to their benefit. Macklemore, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus Eminem, 2Chainz, Kanye, Jay-Z, Beyonce, they’ve all been cultural war-zones for pop culture racial politics, with Black folk getting the shit end of the stick and being told-“We don’t need you anymore, we’ve got these white people” or “Your culture is lowly and a joke.” But what’s Macklemore saying about any of it? I mean, he doesn’t have to right? It isn’t his problem, he’s just here to make a buck out of it.
He’s talking about these systems and these structures that do not hurt him or affect him in the slightest in the most passive way possible by centering and prioritizing himself and his voice and to the most benefit to himself, with no actual transgressive dialogue or action or risk taken so he doesn’t hurt his brand, hurt his money, or get flack from everyone. He will alienate no one and call out no dominate structures or dialogue. That’s the definition of “acting with privilege and being privileged” and fucked up. Why am I supposed to be impressed then by the fact that he merely knows he’s a white dude? What does that do to fix anything? What are you actually going to do about it, Macklemore?
We’ve got to demand more out of “People with privilege” in the sense that we demand they stop doing this shit, stop speaking for us. We have to stop giving out cookies and attention to people who don’t do shit beyond knowing they’ve got an advantage. We have to stop self-hating and prioritizing people with privilege in our struggles, stop others prioritizing people with privilege talking about our struggles because it is still too dangerous too them coming from us. We’ve especially gotta get mad at these people who STILL blatantly act on that advantage and that people listen to them and them only because that’s supremacy and racism and that’s the whole problem here. I’ve had enough with mediocrity and with disrespect and bigotry.