Whites and Hip-Hop
Published 13 May 2017
Young whites who embrace rap and hip-hop culture prove that America is becoming a colorblind society. In this context, colorblind means not being racist or not looking at certain aspects of black culture as inherently black, but rather considering these concepts as part of American culture in general. Rap and hip-hop are both part of original black culture. Both have become popular in the last 2 decades and have been adopted as a common part of the American way of life; their presence in almost all kinds of media denotes the pervasive influence of these ideas as they are now considered socially acceptable.
The documentary “Blacking Up: Hip-Hop’s Remix of Race and Identity” raises certain issues pertaining to white people doing hip-hop. Although most white kids would do hip-hop and rap just because it was “fun” and “cool”, most black people would see it as “cultural larceny” or just another way for the whites to make fun of the blacks. In other words, it is just another racist issue. However, it really depends on what side of the fence you’re in. For the whites, it may be fun and cool because the rap and hip-hop culture is one-of-a-kind, entertaining and a good way of expressing oneself. In simpler terms, when the whites make use of rap and hip-hop it is, in a way, a gesture of holding them in high-esteem and not the other way around.
The term “wigger” was coined to describe someone who tries to imitate a black person, and in this documentary, it was referring to the whites. Some popular, typical examples of wigger celebrities are Vanilla Ice and Eminem – both of whom were able to gain a following through their use of hip-hop music. Both artists came up with popular hit songs which became worldwide sensations and attained unparalleled stature during their respective heydays. Despite adopting a black concept in their music, both Vanilla Ice and Eminem put their talents to good use and never raised racist issues or anything that would be offensive to the black culture.
“Blackface” was also tackled in the video as comparable to the concept of hip-hop and rap in the current times – the video showed segments of Blackface, a white American who painted his face with shoe polish and put on a wig so he would look black. The concept of Blackface would later on become a popular icon of combining black music with white artistry, similar to what the popular ‘wiggers’ have been doing. The contention is that what Blackface did before and what Eminem did just recently are parallel and the same. The black music used by Blackface and the rap music used by Eminem are the artists’ manner of expressing themselves – it was just that the medium they used was of black ethnicity which makes the issue significant and cannot merely be brushed aside.
There are also issues raised by some black authorities in the video where they say that the whites are taking their culture and making fun of it. This is depicted in the way Blackface has been used in comedy in the earlier years, and now, the rap and hip-hop culture which white Americans have come to adopt as their own. America has struggled to get over its racism issues which were considerably plentiful in the past. Now, the contemporary groups like “2 White Crew” and “Cracked Down” are defensively reasoning out that they’re merely “acting out” their roles and just trying to make people laugh, which, for all intents and purposes, is actually quite possible.
As the American race is becoming more and more diverse, so does the culture imbibe the diverse elements that go with it. Perhaps, it can be said that indeed, America is going colorblind. There is definitely a positive note to this though since it connotes having a more unified view of the American culture. In the near future, there will no longer be that delineation between what is supposed to be black or white, my culture against their culture, or similar diverse arguments. It is an impending probability that soon, the problems will be better tackled as the true issues will finally be confronted and skin color will be lesser of an issue and eventually ignored.
- Clift, R.A., & Clift, R.A. 2010., Blacking Up: Hip-hop’s Remix of Race and Identity. United States: itvs.org