I’m sitting outside at this cafe in Richmond and suddenly a Mercedes rolls up and the music is so loud and it’s hardcore rap and the car is rattling for the Gods. I take a look at the people in this loud car just because, you know, anyone who’s playing music at that volume is begging to be looked at. And who do I see? Why, none other than four white girls, maxing and relaxing to that hip hop! They are going IN, throwing (what they think are) gang signs, singing all the words and everything! I’m so shocked that I actually laugh to myself before I’m like, “wow.”
Usually when someone’s blasting hip hop out of their car it’s a black guy or a white guy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white female — let alone four white females! — blasting a hip hop or rap song at that volume. It was definitely something to see.
I have no problem with people listening to the kind of music that gets them turnt up, whatever that might be. As a gay I’m the person blasting either Beyoncé or techno in my apartment, so I fully get when people are in their own cars and want to go H-A-M because w/e it’s fun. I’m also certainly not saying that white people can’t listen to hip hop, and I wrote this sentence specifically to all the people in the comments who are going to say that this is what I’m saying.
All I’m saying is: you are not black. I’ve been to so many parties, both on college campuses and in night clubs, where as soon as the hip hop or rap track drops suddenly everyone in the room becomes black. I’ve had white people I don’t even KNOW try to talk to me in an affected hip hop voice before I’m like, Oh for real? U black huh?
I’m thinking of course of the children in the TKE fraternity at Arizona State who held the incredibly racist MLK Day Black Party, complete with folks wearing oversized jerseys, drinking out of watermelons, flashing gang signs, and all sorts of other ratchetness. Just because you listen to hip hop or hardcore rap music doesn’t mean you get to use the n-word. You don’t get to embody all the stereotypical signs of blackness.
The problem I have with this miming of blackness is that this is what blackness becomes for people: a set of words, speech patterns, and mannerisms found largely in hip hop and street culture. Blackness is gold chains and speech patterns, not a law degree from an Ivy League law school. Blackness is about sagging pants and holding your dick, not about getting invested in local communities or working two jobs to be the first person in your family to graduate from college.
Hip hop is only one facet of blackness, and anyway not all of hip hop is as vulgar or aggressive or stereotyped as the stuff these four white girls had on (see the track at the start of this article). You can listen to the music. Play it as loud as you want. Talk about how much you love it. Be inspired by the culture. Just don’t try to be black and we will all be fine!