A Manifesto – A Response to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’, White Privilege II


“…these are the words that I mani­fest. I Mani­fest.” – Gang Starr, Mani­fest (No More Mr. Nice Guy, 1989 – Wild Pitch Records/EMI Records)

Peace, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

With sin­cer­ity, I sub­mit this mani­festo of grat­it­ude and appre­ci­ation for your con­cern. More to the point and spe­cif­ic to this document’s intent, I thank you for your candor; your will­ing­ness to acknow­ledge the plight of Black people [through your dia­logue invok­ing joint, White Priv­ilege II] and the ori­gin­a­tion of what has proven to be an insur­mount­able social obstacle against the sys­tem of White Priv­ilege. Your efforts are com­mend­able, and brave to boot. Your pub­lic observ­ance of what has been an issue for nearly 500 years is regarded as sin­cerely empath­et­ic and not trivi­al, for it sug­gests that you under­stand the prop­er way in which to address and impart reas­on­ing unto your cul­tur­al peers for the pur­pose of con­tex­tu­al­iz­ing the very real idea of white priv­ilege, cul­tur­al appro­pri­ation, and cul­tur­al sub­jug­a­tion. How­ever, while your song con­tent and approach are unique and brim with qual­ity, I’d be remiss if I failed to men­tion that the intent and goal aren’t. As I am sure you are aware, Hip Hop has always served as the ini­ti­ate for social change, high­light­ing the adverse cir­cum­stances under which we were, are, and con­tin­ue to be placed, per the ubi­quit­ous nature of white privilege/supremacy.

Over the years, many of our beloved and legendary Emcees have worked to bring aware­ness to the prob­lem while bol­ster­ing the rich­ness and right­eous­ness that is con­tained with­in us, the ori­gin­al man – “The maker, the own­er, the cream of the plan­et Earth, Fath­er of civil­iz­a­tion, God of the Uni­verse.” Legendary Emcees such as: KRS One – You Must Learn; PRT (Poor Right­eous Teach­ers) – Shakiyla; X‑Clan – Funkin’ Les­son; Lakim Shabazz – Black is Back; King Sun – Be Black; Big Daddy Kane – Young, Gif­ted, and Black ; Brand Nubi­ans – Wake Up; Pub­lic Enemy – Fight The Power; Grand­mas­ter Flash and The Furi­ous Five – The Mes­sage; Fear­less Four – Prob­lems of The World Today; Gang Starr – Roy­alty; Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli) – Brown Skin Lady; Rakim – The Mys­tery; Nas – I Can, and a host of oth­ers that go unnamed but are equally recog­nized. Unfor­tu­nately, the gra­cious offer­ings of these artists wouldn’t sur­pass expos­ure bey­ond cul­tur­al rel­ev­ance; the excep­tion per­haps being those White broth­ers and sis­ters that were and con­tin­ue to be avid Hip Hop sup­port­ers and/or his­tor­i­ans.

UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 11:  HYDE PARK  Photo of Flavor FLAV and Chuck D and PUBLIC ENEMY, B&W Posed  (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)

UNITED KING­DOM — FEB­RU­ARY 11: HYDE PARK Photo of Fla­vor FLAV and Chuck D and PUB­LIC ENEMY, B&W Posed (Photo by Dav­id Corio/Redferns)

Macklemore and Ryan, the point of the afore­men­tioned is not to con­vey nor pose oppos­i­tion to your song, but, to simply acknow­ledge those that have come before you [as you’ve most not­ably done on Down­Town feat. Kool Moe Dee, Grand­mas­ter Caz, and Grand­mas­ter Melle Mel]and have lever­aged the plat­form of Hip Hop cul­ture as a means of effec­tu­at­ing social change, or in the least, spark the flame of cul­tur­al con­sid­er­a­tion amongst  White folks.

Regard­ing this mat­ter, I found myself com­pelled to express my per­spect­ive. Not because I felt it neces­sary to align with the way­ward back­lash that you guys are being met with, but instead, to provide an artic­u­late and respect­ful explan­a­tion of how we as Black folks poten­tially feel about your song, albeit gra­cious. On anoth­er note, I have to admit that I was some­what indif­fer­ent about your career; I’d con­cur that your lyr­ic­al prowess is mostly enjoy­able and your content/topics were inter­est­ing and some­times even poignant but your songs nev­er quite res­on­ated with me. In fact, if I can be hon­est, I ini­tially con­sidered you to be just anoth­er White rap­per using the bene­fit of impli­cit priv­ilege, suprem­acy, care­free themes, flow pat­terns, suit­able vocal inflec­tions, and vocab­u­lary to drive a career. A shift in my belief has since occurred caus­ing me to depart from this per­spect­ive and see that in fact, White people can genu­inely care about and be inves­ted in the long-term sus­tain­ab­il­ity of Black cul­ture. The two of you have proven this through your pub­lic sin­cer­ity and grat­it­ude for the incom­par­able con­tri­bu­tions that Black cul­ture has impar­ted unto the world.  You guys have pos­sibly set the stage for change amongst White people and it is now time to execute.

Below are some recom­mend­a­tions of how you can fur­ther facil­it­ate an under­stand­ing amongst your eth­nic peers regard­ing the social dynam­ic between Black and White people and how it is impacted by the sys­tem of White Priv­ilege.  Some recom­men­ded group talk­ing points amongst White people are as fol­lows:

  • Don’t be threatened by the assertion of Black [and Brown] Pride
  • Seek opportunities that support/reinforce empathy for the Black [and Brown] experience
  • Similarities between the Black and White racial/social experience is virtually non-existent
  • Understand that the statement, “Black Lives Matter” is not suggestive of racism or a disregard for White lives
  • Gentrification is a result of White Privilege and is a real and proven concept that forces cultural displacement
  • White flight is a result of White Privilege and is a real and proven concept that erodes the cultural diversity in a neighborhood, thereby, causing the inevitability of poverty as a result of ethnic stereotyping
  • Amongst Black people, Rioting is never a result of animalistic and/or apathetic manifestations. Instead, it is the result of hopelessness in the face of racial adversity, inequality, and injustice
  • Effectively, Black [and Brown] people can’t reasonably be regarded as racist amidst the looming shadows of systematic White Privilege/Supremacy

Again, I thank you [pro­spect­ive Hip Hop Legends] for your will­ing­ness to cre­ate the basis upon which healthy dia­logue regard­ing the issue of eth­nic priv­ilege will per­haps come to thrive. It is my hope that the per­spect­ive shared in this mani­festo has merely served as addi­tion­al con­text and has impar­ted sug­gest­ive instruc­tions that look to con­trib­ute to a found­a­tion of bet­ter under­stand­ing the Black exper­i­ence.

Thank you in advance for the engage­ment. Look­ing for­ward to hear­ing back from you.


D.D. Turn­er, Enfor­cer of Negritude

TCOH­HL (The Chron­icles of a Hip Hop Legend) Radio





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