Stacey Dash, Macklemore, & The Black Ego Theory

These names have been the forefront of racial commentary in the social media sphere. Stacey Dash recently took her questionable comments to camera after being asked about the #OscarsSoWhite movement, suggesting we should get rid of the BET Network as well as Black History Month. And then hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with the release of their single ”White Privilege II”.

To shed a little insight on why these two names may have something in common, I could put it very simply and say, “things black people don’t like,” but this goes in depth as to why, and also why we shouldn’t.

Stacey Dash has been looked at in more recent years with an Uncle Tom complex similar to the way Raven-Symone has been perceived. With her endorsing Mitt Romney, bashing Oprah Winfrey and President Obama, supporting Paula Deen and Bill Cosby, and contributing to Fox News, some may say Dash has been “white-washed” and therefore shunned by the black community. More accurately though, Stacey Dash has really been shunned and mocked by black twitter.

Her comments on the Fox News panel earlier in January didn’t shock many, but it did have the black community in an uproar. Actress Gabrielle Union even threw shade when she was asked about the situation, claiming she didn’t know her and thought she might have been a part of Roc-A-Fella. Ironically, her cousin, Dame Dash, thinks that Fox is paying her to act like this, more specifically, “getting paid to coon on the news.” BET has even chimed in playing music videos on their network that all featured Stacey Dash, while displaying the hashtag #neverforget.

I do not believe Dash’s comments came from a bad place, however, the way she tried to get her point across crashed and burned. Her established reputation doesn’t really help her case either. I think what she was trying to point out is the exclusivity of these things such as BET and Black History Month, while ignoring the meaning and importance of it’s existence in America. They are mere reminders of what we as a race have overcome and accomplished while inhabiting the United States. This is why the black community is so angry at Stacey Dash, because she’s attacking our ego.

I have this theory about the black community in America, and it’s that there is a collective black ego, which is what keeps us all black, in an ideological sense. We should not dare shatter that image, compromise our blackness, or even think differently. If we do, we end up like a Stacey Dash, Raven-Symone, or Don Lemon.  The black community’s ego is also what fuels the #blacklivesmatters movement. It’s a must that we protect our image of the African American, speaking out against cultural appropriation, racial injustices, and the very institution that has been oppressing us for several years. If we don’t, we’re seen as a trader, enemy, or even worse, we may not be seen as black.

Owning your blackness is one thing, letting it consume your identity is different. I understand that most characteristics that are deemed as “black” are subject to their environment and demographic, and that is subject to how America was built and how POC’s started with the lower end of the stick. Because of that, stereotypes are built, and mannerisms are judged by color and race. So unconsciously, black people will and have judged their own kind for not holding up the image of the African American.

It is a slowly evolving phenomenon but instead of reverse-racism, I believe black people can be racially biased. Meaning they will only interact with their own race, identify with their own race, and partake in things only their race would partake in.

Things like rock or country music, hockey, meatloaf, mayonnaise, not seasoning food, dancing off-rhythm, not disciplining their children, and tons of other white stereotypes are all things black people wouldn’t dare to indulge in. There are tons of different things that you could associate with various races. These associations are why you see hilarious videos on the internet such as these:

Now on the opposite spectrum of this conversation, white people have this unconscious fear of being, or even being perceived as racist. They are careful about what they say, how they approach black people, and may even feel uncomfortable around a group of three or more of us. That brings me to the white rapper/artist, Macklemore.

One thing you should know about Macklemore is that he is 100% not the person who people perceive him to be. After his sweeping of the 56th Grammy Awards in the Hip-Hop category, the black community was outraged at how well he did and how no other artists won an award in that category, a category that the black community feel as if they own. This is not surprising, as commercial American award shows have been majorly caucasian ever since they have existed.

I think Macklemore deserved most of his awards this year based on numbers alone (with the exception of hip-hop AOTY; Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.a.a.d. city should have won in my opinion). He released a quadruple-platinum record with “Thrift Shop” and more than likely the first hip-hop record that’s ever addressed homophobia as a problem as opposed to expressing homophobic beliefs and slurs with “Same Love”. As groundbreaking as a song like this is for the culture, it still received much backlash because of the fact that he is white.

I wouldn’t say I am a fan of Macklemore’s, but I certainly respect him and think he makes great music. Most of the people who hate on Macklemore either never gave his music a chance (not counting his radio singles) or are just victim to the collective ego that I mentioned earlier. I listened to Macklemore’s album, The Heist, all the way through and really enjoyed it. His music actually has substance and a message as well as feel good records which I feel like may be directed more towards a white audience, but what do you expect? He’s a white male from Seattle.

He and his production partner, Ryan Lewis, are prepping another album due out this month and just recently put out a single entitled “White Privilege II” which obviously implies that they’ve made a record similar to this before. Just the title of this record alone could stir up various feelings and opinions depending on who sees it and what race they are obviously. When I saw it the first thing I thought was “interesting”.

Then I listened to the song. The structure of the song is very similar to his other tracks that address social issues, but in this song he goes into different perspectives of the same concept from the point of view of a white rapper in these times. He goes into how he marched after the shooting in Ferguson but then intuitively questions if he really belongs there and should be speaking up on something he doesn’t experience directly.

In another verse, Macklemore addresses his success as a white rapper and compares himself to the likes of Miley Cyrus, Elvis, and Iggy Azealia and questions if he is appropriating the culture as well with his music, making it seem more ‘poppy’ while at the same time outshining the black hip-hop artists as a result of his privilege. He does however address in the song that he is aware of his privilege:

“The one thing the American dream fails to mention, is I was many steps ahead to begin with.”

There are a lot of twists and turns in this record, going from his experience at protests, his impact on the hip-hop culture and how the public receives his music, and his position as a famous white American in the time of various social injustices. It is all very profound and I respect Macklemore for this song because there isn’t much a white person in America can do about racism, but I believe an important step is realizing your privilege as Macklemore has done.

I also think it was very courageous for Macklemore to make this record because it is extremely easy for white people to stay silent about the movement, almost as easy as it is for black people to speak out about the movement. It was really mature of him and important especially for the times we are going through right now. If you think about it, you don’t see Eminem, Mac Miller, or G-Eazy making records like this (especially not a “Same Love”). I believe this is what separates Macklemore from your average white rapper, the fact that he is subject to white privilege, but is also aware of it and willing to open up about it.

So should we hate Stacey Dash? Should we hate Macklemore? No, but the collective black ego would say yes. Hate is such a waste of energy and I don’t endorse Stacey Dash and her comments but I do think she has a right to express her opinions and I really don’t care much as to what she believes.

I like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ music just as it is, and I won’t let the fact that they’re white and that they have massive success because of that, change my opinion about them or their music.

The black ego theory in conclusion is just that, a theory. It is the idea that being “black” is not just the color of your skin, but the content of your character which is quite ironic if you think about Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. The color of our skin is the very foundation of how we got to be deemed as “black” but nowadays we think certain characteristics, mannerisms, and beliefs are what make us a particular ethnicity.

When you really think about it, there is no “black and white” but deep down we are all just different shades of the same color(beige and brown).  The black ego theory is why people hated to see Cam Newton lose while the media defames his character. The black ego theory is why people claim Migos are better than The Beatles. The black ego theory is why Donald Trump probably won’t get any of the black vote. The black ego theory is why people thought Kid Cudi’s newest album was wack. The black ego theory is why I got called an “Oreo” in school. I’m still black, maybe just not the black that you know and recognize.

-DW

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