Last month, poet/rapper Mick Jenkins and Chicago brethren rapper Supa Bwe released the visuals for their record “Treat Me (Caucasian),” demanding the privilege of white folks in response to the recent (but not new) surge in public terror and abuse of Black bodies. Though this video may have slipped under your radar if you’re not watching the rap blogs extra-close, the pain it addresses gets more acute every day. I hope by now we all acknowledge the reality ofsystematic racialized disenfranchisement and understand the relevance, seriousness and, yes, validity in asking to be treated like a white person. The record mirrors songs over the last four decades that express painful messages about racialized abuse, justified, anger and the general WTF mentality toward the prevalence of homeland racial injustice. They address that very old and very large elephant in the room directly, asking straight up to be treated caucasian–to have their basic human rights and bodily autonomy recognized and respected. Their statement reflects the collective thought of so many Black Americans dealing with and experiencing the politics of contemporary American Blackness, while trying to make sense of, adjust to, and resist authority figures terrorizing the streets.
Other artists have been making kindred statements. In Childish Gambino‘s latest interview on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, he talks about his “controversial” August twitter-poem claiming he wants to be a white rapper. The people got hype, as they often do, over misinterpretation. He explains that he does in fact want “whiteness,” meaning he wants the same opportunity and mobility as white entertainers, because “whiteness” means freedom–freedom from predetermined biases, a significantly increased amount of opportunity, and power.
“That poem’s about freedom. I do wanna be big and white…because whiteness is blankness. It’s because they look at it as a blank slate. when you come in you can be anything…”
The “Treat Me” video is a a side-by-side of the life in a day of Mick and Supa Bwe, and contrasts the everyday ordinary micro-aggressions that a black person experiences versus the experience of a white/racially ambiguous/lighter-skinned person. The visual also incorporates socioeconomic differences: Jenkins is in an economically depressed city riding the bus, while Bwe is driving mom’s SUV in a higher class suburb. Several chilling images of present-day police brutality are mixed-in just in case you thought it was over–or forgot why this kind of agitation is necessary.
White is still right in American culture; there is power in popularity and Childish said it best, “white people are popular.” Power is mobility, safety, and respect and without power you are not safe.
Check out the video below and here are some things to think about before you all get on your worst behavior tonight: this is the 84th day that Darren Wilson has remained free and the woman being beaten on the highway in the video clip is 51 year old Marlene Pinnock. Do not make the mistake of thinking gender is an irrelevant or separate discussion. Black women experience a unique kind of abuse that sits at the crosshairs of racism and sexism (intersectionality is a bitch). So what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section (but keep in mind this is not the space for reverse racism so please don’t come over here talking that bullshit).