“…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.
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