Thursday, June 16, 2016

Am I A Racist if I Don’t Like Rap Music?

As much as I fight against it, political correctness has taken over my mind. I find myself having what used to be perfectly ordinary views, but I now challenge them on the basis of thought police brainwashing. I’m not even sure what I’m allowed to think anymore because I am told that my views are corrupted by forces outside of my control, floating through our society’s ether. Normal meanings of words have changed so dramatically that I now have to ask if we are able to assess anything at face value, or if everything is up for debate. More to the point, I now genuinely question who is in charge of my mind: me or the utopians who believe they know better? 

For example, I used to understand that being a racist was believing that - on the virtue of your skin color - you believed you were better than those of a different skin color. Naturally, this could apply to anyone. Somewhere in the mess that is the American academy, it became way more than that. Racism became limited only to whites (because they have the power), and more about institutional oppression than individuals beliefs. Fortunately for us, the academy got to define all of those social institutions and rewrite history along the way. 

Suffice to say, I don’t believe I’m a racist. (The academy is jeering right now, “Said every racist ever.”) But really, I don’t. But in the last few years, I have noticed a change in the way that I think and speak about my own society because I’ve essentially been brainwashed to believe my racism was inevitable. Because, you know, I’m a white man. 

For example: I do not like rap music. There was a time when I felt free to say that without worrying about what others might think. Rap just isn’t for everyone, right? Just like country (not a fan of that, either) isn’t for everyone. Just like classic rock isn’t for everyone. Just like jazz isn’t for everyone. To me, rap has a synthetic sound that is grating. I prefer music played on real instruments, not beat machines. While I can appreciate the talent it takes to create rhymes, especially on the fly, it isn’t poetry that does anything for me. (17th century Christian hymn writers are more my style…if that isn’t racist, that is!) Rap is often angry and even vile, promoting many things the thought police would have us be rid of: homophobia, mysogany, violence, etc. And, well, it simply doesn’t speak to my milquetoast upbringing and experience, so I can’t relate to it and won’t pretend as if I can.

But I now even question if I’m allowed to say what I just said without being an abject racist pig. After all, rap and/or hip hop is generally associated with the African American community, even though many whites perform and consume it as well. So if I say I don’t like rap music, am I really expressing a personal animosity towards blacks? Is it just another example of white privilege? 

Or in order to prove I am not a racist, do I have to approve of all tangential aspects superficially connected to that culture? Nevermind that many African Americans also detest rap music; the question is, can I without being a racist? What about other admittedly stereotypical identifiers of hip hop culture? Saggy pants, for example. If I don’t like that any young man, white or black, would wear their pants well below their waste exposing their underwear. Yes, I know that some believe this is a testament of solidarity (at best) to those in prison who have no belts, etc. But does not liking sagging pants make me a racist?

Here’s another example. I like watching NBA basketball, especially when the playoffs get interesting. And I want to talk about basketball with other people who might be fans. If I’m in a situation where relatively light conversation makes sense (say, a repairman or technician is at my home or office and we’re waiting for a phone call or a part to arrive), I might want to ask if they have watched the games. But I don’t. Why? Because I’ve been trained by the thought police not to assume that a black man would be watching basketball. “Don’t you know that black people have varied interests?!” I might answer, “Well yes, of course, but I like basketball, too. It’s no judgment.” But for assuming anything about someone else becomes a symbol of oppression, even if I would take no offense if anyone assumed anything about me. I would be glad to gently correct them in an actual conversation. 

Now there are three temptations I would normally want to use in my self defense. 

First, I’d want to point out that it could work the other way, too. For example, I’d like to offer counter-examples of black people not being fans of traditionally white or Euro-centric aspects of culture. But such a counter-example would quickly be labeled “white privilege”…I think. Because for me to even have the power to not like a counter-cultural art form like rap means I have more privileges than those in the minority whose music is a testament to their struggle. 

I’m also tempted, of course, to justify myself on the basis of my black friendships. Since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream was that we would judge one another on the content of our character and not on the color of our skin, I am tempted to use that as a defense of all my friendships with those whose skin is darker than mine. (This would include people of dark skin of non-African descent as - if this is really about skin color - that would be the consistent thing to do. But the thought police would say that ignores the unique history of African Americans, so that option is shut off.) But we all know that having black friends is no protection against racism. Maybe I’m just using those people as a salve to my conscience. Or maybe I’m only friends with blacks who suppress their culture, who are more “white” like me.

Oh, and another temptation. I have many critiques of “white culture” too! Can I share those in an attempt to demonstrate that I am an equal-opportunity critic of my society? I’m guessing not because, again, it’s white privilege to be able to assess and critique one’s own culture from an ivory tower while those of darker color are trying to overcome centuries of oppression.  

This whole race thing has gotten so confusing. Here’s my bottom line: Can I love people as they are, as God made them, but still be a critic of some elements of our culture-at-large without being a racist? Can I be a critic of rap music as both an aesthetic art form and as social commentary without being a racist? Can I desire that all young men - regardless of the color of their skin - wear their pants on their hips without being a racist? Or do I have to learn to approve of all elements of “black culture” in order not to be a racist? Are these elements of “black culture” (if such a thing as “black culture” exists, and I’m happy to say it does not if you’ll allow it) synonymous with all black people? And do I have to accept or like them to avoid being a racist? 

If so, I will inevitably have to be a racist. But if I am allowed to offer critiques of all elements of my society (atheism and homosexuality for example, are generally more common among whites than blacks), then I am free to have honest and loving relationships with people of darker color than me. It would sure be nice to simply interact with people on such an honest basis. But the thought police have probably made that option impossible.


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