Analysis of the Race Conversation in Joyner Lucas’ Music Video ‘‘i'm not a Racist’’

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2017 has been a year that has once again shown the world how split the society of the USA is. The recent election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States is for many people a symbol of the interior situation and triggered a debate, which goes far beyond the election itself. Racism is one of the most relevant issues of the debate, which concerns all social classes and ages. Joyner Lucas focuses in his music video on this problem with two men, a white man with a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat, and an Afro-American man with dreadlocks and wearing Hip-Hop clothes. The figures, which are both intentionally depicted in an exaggerated and stereotypical way, are addressing reproaches while sitting on a table face to face to each other. Since it’s release, the video became viral and has been viewed more than 73 million times on YouTube. This paper analyzes the social conflicts and mutual accusations from the ethnic representatives that are approached in the music video by Joyner Lucas.

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To begin with, the major issue of the video, as the title says, is racism. The white man uses the discriminatory and racist word “Nigga" in the beginning by giving a statement “Not having pity for you black Niggas“ (Lucas 2). This gives the audience a first impression of his reluctance towards African-Americans. Also is he castigating that black people use the word all the time but simultaneously feel offended when other, non-blacks use it. Simultaneously, is he using this argument as a justification to use it himself (Lucas 7). On the contrary, the Afro American male gives several responds and explanations of the initial meaning and use of the word. He explains him emotionally how Afro Americans, even his grandmother, have been oppressed and how blacks nowadays in the 21st century, since slavery has been disestablished in the United States, use it as a greeting to curtail the power of the word and to deaden the initial meaning but simultaneously not to forget the history of slavery (Lucas 84). Indeed, some people might share in general the argumentation of having double standards, but considering the fact that slavery is one of the darkest chapters in the history of humans, in which the word has it’s (his) origin. Therefore, one can comprehend harsh reactions regarding the use of the word by non-blacks. Another point both of the representatives are arguing about is taking responsibility in life. On the one hand the white character is highlighting several negative stereotypes regarding black men not taking responsibility in life. He argues that they abandon their children, live from government assistance and abuse the purpose of food stamps for their children by selling them to buy drugs (Lucas 19-28). The blacks explanation to these accusations is different. In his opinion, the system they live in commits racism and leads to prejudgments towards blacks, which in turn is the reason for the high amount of refusals at job applies.

Hence, nothing but selling drugs because of necessity is the result of that. Indeed, institutional racism is still a contentious point in the United States and unfortunately still is common. A recent group of socialists released a study in the “Harvard Business Review“ online magazine, which showed that hiring racism concerning black Americans has not changed the past 25 years. Thus, I do comprehend the blacks point of view, who (which) tries to give him an understanding and insight of how his life is, whereas the white man however again displays the stereotypes racists typically have about Afro Americans. Summarizing, the white character is claiming that black men are lazy and are even proud of the circumstances they live in. This is an exaggerated type of stereotyping, what the white character does through the whole song even though he still is claiming not to be a racist frequently. Eventually, both of the figures argue about the cultural differences each race has, despite the fact they live in the same country among each other. The white is isolating white people as the elite of society by bringing up examples like Einstein and Steve Jobs, who are considered as pioneers in science and digital revolution (Lucas 43). He compares these two men with 2Pac, to emphasize that white people generally tend to look up to successful people and therefore become more successful whereas black people tend to take rappers as their idols (Lucas 44). This is again stereotyping both races differently; the whites as the sophisticated elite and the blacks as rappers, who automatically become associated as gangsters due to the roots and content of Hip-Hop. He is convinced, that music has a big influence on the mindset of especially young black people. The white continues with a critique and reproach towards celebrities, who try to support the black community in the United States of America, NFL players kneeling down during the national anthem as a sign of protest, for instance. He even dismisses Eminem from his skin color, since he verbally attacked Donald Trump in a video (“Y'all can take that motherfucker, too, he ain't white no more“ Lucas 60). The black once again pillories that the white man is not able to comprehend something he does not understand. The causes of the accusations are in his opinion consequences of decades of constitutional and institutional racism, which has been built by media, government and history. In conclusion, the Rap Song of Joyner Lucas addresses the current domestic problems the United States of America is going through in all classes of society. Lucas is using his voice as a critique to both sides, the African-American and the white community. His intention of the song is to give people cause for thought, not a solution to the problems. The song is expressing many real and complex problems in an exaggerated way, but an issue with this sort of complexity can not receive enough attention, especially to a country who is the most powerful of the world whilst it claims to be the most democratic of all. Lucas did that in a very skillful and deft way, which is the reason of it becoming so popular within less than a year.

Works cited

  1. Lucas, Joyner. (2017). I'm Not Racist. [Music Video]. Youtube.
  2. Harvard Business Review. (2017). Hiring Discrimination Against Black Workers Hasn't Declined in 25 Years.
  3. Bonilla-Silva, E. (2014). Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America. Rowman & Littlefield.
  4. DiAngelo, R. (2018). White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. Beacon Press.
  5. Kendi, I. X. (2019). How to Be an Antiracist. One World.
  6. Lopez, G. (2019). Racism on Campus: Stories from Higher Education. Rutgers University Press.
  7. Rothstein, R. (2017). The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Liveright Publishing.
  8. Alexander, M. (2012). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Press.
  9. Bonilla-Silva, E., & Dietrich, D. R. (2011). The Sweet Enchantment of Color-Blind Racism in Obamerica. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 634(1), 190-206.
  10. Feagin, J. R. (2013). The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing. Routledge.

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