Wigger, Please!

White hand with pimp rings

Why is it that white youngsters safely esconced in the outerlands of suburbia, (a magical place that their parents have fashioned just to protect them from the evil influences of people of color, especially black people crime and blight),  go on to betray their parents and all they’ve done for them by turning their faces toward the hip hop culture of black and latino youth?

Robert A. Clift, a young white man has created the film documentary “Blacking Up” to tackle this very touchy and multifaceted subject.  He says he got the idea while he was a graduate student at Indiana University.  While he was in his dorm one day he overheard the noise of a frat house that was having its “Annual Hip Hop battle”, so he presciently grabbed his camera and ran out to film the spectacle, which has since  become a critically acclaimed PBS documentary.  Here’s what he saw on that fateful day:

“…It was like the setting for the ending of “8 Mile,” except the racial dynamics were totally inverted. Instead of a mostly black crowd with a black emcee as the crowd favorite—and with the underdog, Eminem, overcoming the racial obstacles to beat the black emcee—the crowd was mostly white with a white emcee as the crowd favorite and a black emcee that was trying to win over the racial animosity of the white crowd. The results were also the opposite of the movie – not only did
the black battler not overcome the racialized sides of the audience as Eminem did, but played right into it, almost causing a huge fight and causing the crowd to jeer at him when he accused the white battler of wanting to be black. It got pretty tense. The crowd didn’t think it was fair for the black rapper to bring race into the battle. It was fine to talk about women and mothers and penises, but not about race.” (interview with Mediasaurs)

What’s interesting to me is not so much that a group of white kids on the all-white campus of Indiana University staged a “hip hop battle”.  What IS surprising to me is Robert’s reading of the racial dynamics of the crowd of white hip hoppers.  His statement is full of clues about the minds of white folks.  Maybe this is why most white folks really don’t like talking about their deep seated issues with race, not even amongst themselves, as Mr. Clift admits.  Maybe it’s that they are deeply afraid of their issues, or worse, they simply can’t understand their issues.  But, as issues tend to rise to the surface just to spite us, Robert Clift revealed some of his stuff right here.

He says that “Eminem overcame racial obstacles to beat the black emcee” in talking about the movie “8 Mile”.  In real life, there aren’t any real “racial obstacles” that white Americans have to overcome.  They don’t exist.  But the movie “8 Mile” managed to create this idea of a white man’s racial oppression?  But what’s even more interesting in “8 Mile”  is the white man’s triumphing over that oppression.  Slim Shady overcame, y’all.  (BTW, Eminem can rap. Everybody knows that. Enuf said.)  I haven’t figured out how to read anything into that yet.   Is it that blacks are more fair minded?  Or is it that white people are really and truly fair minded, and not blinded by racism?  Or is it that the content of one’s character, or skill is all that’s truly necessary to succeed?

But then snatching back with the left hand what he gave with with the right,  Clift subtly accuses that lone black hip hop battler of not being as smooth in real life as Eminem was in his movie.  Because brotherman didn’t choose to “overcome” the racialized sides in the college campus battle, “as Eminem did”, but played right into their racism by playing the dreaded race card,  thus getting what he deserved in causing the white kids to want to fight him for unfairly bringing up race in the battle!

White kids rapping can be subversive, but it’s not inherently so. In many cases, it plays right into race, class, and gender hierarchies. But the question of when it is subversive and when it is not, of what the white hip-hop fan or performer means, politically speaking, is what the whole film is about. It’s central to the film. Is it, as you asked, subversive? If so, when? In what circumstances and why? (Robert A. Clift)

All that I’ve seen of the video is a couple of 2-minute long clips, but I get the feeling that Mr. Clift is an apologist for all white rappers, no matter where they fall in the white rapper continuum–whether they “pay homage” and have true rap skills, and deal with hatred from other whites, or they are simply racists who are mocking black culture.  I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

There’s one last aspect of this entire thing.  Those people like the Robert A. Clifts and Tim Wise’s who commodify “this thing” within the white culture of appropriation.  Just in the telling of it, it becomes a commodity to be sold to an eager audience, whether that was the intention or not.  I suppose it’s easier to hear about your issues from someone who will be kind and gentle, holding up a rose colored mirror, that casts a rosy glow upon fellow brethren.  So I can’t really be mad at them.

PT. 1

5 Comments Add yours

  1. flavawear says:

    My take on this quote: “Is it that blacks are more fair minded? Or is it that white people are really and truly fair minded, and not blinded by racism? Or is it that the content of one’s character, or skill is all that’s truly necessary to succeed?
    Yes blacks are more fair minded because they’ve been processed to be that way and except what’s being dished out to them. Whites are not what I would particularly call fair minded. They just know they are excepted as superior, which isn’t the case, so they don’t have to have an opinion one way or another. They expect the norm of taking what belongs to another culture and making it their own. Look at our history! Lastly, I don’t think it had to do completely with Eminem’s skill, although I heard its quite good. Any other white guy with skills could have done what he did. Surround himself with someone who was deeply embed into the rap game. (Dr. Dre) who was open to him, his skill and his disposition, which helped to make him acceptable and lift him to phenomenal levels within the rap game. So those kids were just doing what they do best, be who they were being taught to be. The brother in my eyes (I didnt watch the video) didn’t loose because he claimed racial discrimination. He lost when he walked up onto the stage with a white crowd and went up against someone with a little skill and a few bars in their pocket.
    Great post Sis. Got to share this with my members.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      “…Yes blacks are more fair minded because they’ve been processed to be that way and except what’s being dished out to them. Whites are not what I would particularly call fair minded. They just know they are excepted as superior, which isn’t the case, so they don’t have to have an opinion one way or another.”

      I hear you on this one, Flavawear, and I agree with you. What I was pointing out is how some white folks try to pretend that this is NOT the dynamic, and that the playing field is level for black people. That’s why so many of them HATE when we “play the race card”! Which is just reminding them that the playing field is slanted in their favor always. Now when there are black folks who succeed, that doesn’t mean the field is level, but that those black folks learned to play and excel on a slanted field.

      What’s interesting, is that most white folks can’t admit that, and the movie “8 Mile” fed into an interesting fantasy of what it would be like if the field actually was level. Of course on the level field, white folks would still win in their eyes, even in the rap game, as the movie depicts.

      I thought it was revealing that Mr. Clift had taken the fantasy of 8 Mile and tried to put it on the reality of a group of white frats boy rap pretenders, and act like it was the black rapper’s job to accept them as legitimate rappers, AND calm their rabid racism.

      Shall I tackle it? Yes.
      1. White folks need to come off that ish that it’s black folk’s job to rehabilitate their white racism.
      2. In a rap battle, I suppose you are going to battle, and “go there” with it. So in rapping with wannabes, the “there” is easy. That’s just the nature of rap battling.
      3. White folks feel that they have the right to be racist, but no one has the right to point out the ugliness of their racism. Hey! you’re playing the race card! Foul! YES, if telling you that your racism is ugly–both to me AND to you as well, is playing the race card, then that’s playing the race card, so I guess I’m playing it.

  2. Mark says:

    Looking forward to part 2… that is where I will drop my nonsense into the discussion..!

  3. He says that “Eminem overcame racial obstacles to beat the black emcee” in talking about the movie “8 Mile”. In real life, there aren’t any real “racial obstacles” that white Americans have to overcome. They don’t exist.

    I’ve been thinking of how I wanted to respond to this post for a while now, and 1) I LOVE this quote right here, because sums everything up perfectly, and 2) this comes back to cultural appropriation.

    From the moment you described the battle scene, my first thought was, “All these white kids want is the hip hop scene without all the pesky black people.” They’re willing to look over the fact that they didn’t create hip hop so long as no one keeps reminding them about it, and no troublesome black folk show up, and you know…exist or something.

    So there’s that.

    As for the oppression and imaginary obstacles, this is just White Whine, a bland-bodied vintage which doesn’t really age. 1882, 1932, 1972, 2002 – it all tastes the same.

    Eminem, in my opinion, is a gifted rapper and a clever wordsmith. Some of his verses will give you shivers. The problem with all these spoiled little wannabes is that they’re just that – wannabes. They all want to be the next Eminem, but they don’t have the talent, the skill, the insight, or the grueling years of practice and experience in an underground, predominantly black hip hop scene. They think because he went through all of that, they don’t have to. Like he’s a White Hip Hop Jesus and he died for their mediocrity or something.

    And I find it hilarious that these suburbian-spawned college kids partying in their dorm rooms rally behind Eminem now, because when he was just a broke white kid from dysfunctional family, living in a trailer, none of them would’ve stopped to piss on him had he been on fire.

    1. Anna Renee says:

      “…The problem with all these spoiled little wannabes is that they’re just that – wannabes. They all want to be the next Eminem, but they don’t have the talent, the skill, the insight, or the grueling years of practice and experience in an underground, predominantly black hip hop scene. They think because he went through all of that, they don’t have to. Like he’s a White Hip Hop Jesus and he died for their mediocrity or something.”

      This is it right here! You not only hit the nail on the head, but drove it in completely!!! These kids are trading on Eminem’s talents as a means of legitimizing themselves, but would never go through the “grueling years of practice” against black underground rappers, where it gets hot and its a free for all, which includes race. They don’t have the balls to withstand it, they are whiners, and can’t play The Dozens, because they are too weak, and hip hop battles are founded on the dozens.

Spend Your Two Cents With Me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s