What’s The Intention With Macklemore’s ‘White Privilege 2’ ?

I have to admit, when I spotted this track drop on my timeline, I had to take a minute and maybe a few hours to wait and watch while what was predictably about to take place – took place.

And just like that Twitter has got its latest bolt and charged up once again, and off it goes with a multiple thousand tweets and a slew of think pieces, to talk about why and who should be talking about the existence of racism. “This is the generation to be offended by everything“.

This song is the outcome of an ongoing dialogue with musicians, activists, and teachers within our community in Seattle and beyond. Their work and engagement was essential to the creative process.

Talk about it, don’t talk about it, confront white privilege or don’t – one way or another we need to be having this conversation and it’s not a conversation that’s owned by one person, or led by one opinion. Make it into a song, write about, criticise it or resent it, but frankly we need to keep talking about it. ‘We’ means all of us across gender, race, class and age – it means confronting it head on and it means facing up to the barrage of accusations and counter-accusations about sincerity or lack of, vested interests or dis-interest.

This week alone we’ve jumped from Jada Pinkett to Will Smith, from Stacey Dash to Damon Dash, Sam Smith to Macklemore and back and forth it keeps going.  “Damn, a lot of opinions, a lot of confusion, a lot of resentmentSome of us scared, some of us defensiveAnd most of us aren’t even paying attentionIt seems like we’re more concerned with being called racistThan we actually are with racism.”

Whether they’re talking about racism from a place of black privilege (as Damon Dash accuses Will Smith of doing) to white privilege, we can’t choose who can talk about it – but we need to talk about it nonetheless. As we continue to be sanitised by Trump trash talk and watch the media give blanket coverage to his venom at an alarming rate, the more voices to counter the tide of perplexing polarised hate speech across the media is a necessity. So no one can monopolise the conversation about race, whether it’s the first time you’re experiencing it, witnessing it or living it daily – “are we not we“? Because ‘we’ need to talk about it, now and everyday till we can get past those uncomfortable silences that prevent us from speaking about the things we feel and the daily injustice we endure. Why? so we can finally stop having to keep asking why.

‘White Privilege 2’ is a compelling, complex and a necessary track,  at the same time as being an uneasy, uncomfortable and conflicted look at Macklemore’s own white privilege and political correctness. Hip-Hop is socio-politic – no debate. At 8.45 minutes long, it’s more a conversation than a track, and it’s steeped in Macklemore’s own personal struggle with ‘white privilege’ and his need to contribute sincerely to the anti-racist struggle.

If we want to talk about ‘White Privilege II‘ as Deray McKesson did with Stephen Colbert – white people need to also be able to engage in that conversation head on – there are no ‘white knights’ trying to take the glory – this is not a glorious fight. If there’s rage to be unleashed, unleash it at the ones who perpetuate the ‘white privilege’ and acknowledge those who are finally willing to confront it – as conflicted and contradictory as it may seem.

Silence is no longer a luxury – just ask who Macklemore is directing this track to? You or those who need to hear it?


Listen to ‘White Privilege 2’ featuring Jamila Woods and talk about it!