Are you Racist? In the music video for I’m not Racist by Joyner Lucas it takes a heavy look on stereotypes, racism, and separation of cultures. The purpose of the song is not to call out one group fueled by hate as one may suspect. While it may seem at first to be directed towards white people it is actually made to show everyone, especially in the United States can learn from it. The goal of this song is to unite not separate, making the human race realise what is truly going on between different races in America. Joyner wants to open up a conversation between races to understand each other respectfully and not have stereotypes or hate.
The video takes place in a warehouse and shows a black man, Joyner, and a white man sitting across from each other with a table in between. From different camera angles it shows a vertical bar in between them. It literally shows a separation between them because they are separated, both hostile towards each other. The white man has a Make America Great Again hat and starts off, although it is Joyner rapping the white man is supposed to be the ones saying the words. While walking around the table angrily he says the N-word multiple times and names off a few reasons why he doesn’t like black people. This includes saying black people are lazy, live off government assistance, and have guns instead of caring for their sons. He justifies himself by saying “I’m not racist, My sister’s boyfriend is black” and goes on to say more hurtful things to people of color. He leaves it off on a more positive note saying “But there’s two sides to every story, I wish that I knew yours.”
The Joyner takes over and says why he doesn’t like white people. He hits back at every point made from the other man and adds more. It’s explains how he is affected by the history of slavery and says “‘All Lives Matter’ Is a protest to my protest, what kind of shit is that?” That is a true point, though all lives do matter, white males especially can never feel what it’s like to be consistently discriminated against. Black Lives Matter shows and opens peoples eyes to this discrimination and with the focus being on All Lives Matter then these racial problems are overlooked. Joyner uses ethos because he is literally a black male giving his real life accounts to racism against him. Also giving information to how he lives and was raised and why he says what he says. He promotes an understanding of different cultures together. Even though stereotypes and hate were used on both sides of the argument, they now have a grasp on each others’ views and lives.
This white man included many common and hurtful stereotypes against people of color. This type of generalization is used to put a group down as if to say the speaking person is better than that entire group. Thus bringing society into a culture filled with racism and misunderstandings. There are also racial inequalities in criminal sentencing, health, and persistent racial discrimination in hiring, and housing. Joyner references this too saying “Tryna find a job but ain’t nobody call me back yet.” Some believe that racism is dead and everyone has equality now, but it is not true in the slightest.
“I can’t even drive without the cops tryna start shit, I’m tired of the systematic racism bullshit” is another powerful note Joyner uses. I think it’s one of the reasons why the song came out at the time. Not only is racism alive in the general population, but also in the police department. There are too many people of color including men, women, and children being treated unfairly by cops and it often leads the unarmed black person getting shot dead. It is an epidemic in America that needs to change Immediately. He also released this song in late 2017 to show that time is up and we must change, learn and be better.
He uses emotion throughout the song. The song is based off hate and misunderstanding and inside the video it shows the two men getting angry and yelling at each other. At a moment it looked like they felt sympathy almost and even embraced at the end. Even though they had a heated conversation they started to see where the other was coming from. The lyrics were even more filled with that emotion, mostly anger but looking deeper inside we see sadness, pain, and exhaustion. The lyric “My grandmama was a slave, that shit gets to me” shows deep rooted sadness and Joyner even says he cries a lot in it too. Racism is typically based off emotion, if races are scared and mad at eachother, it makes it harder to be loving and kind to one another.
The lyrics were so powerful and were spoken with such passion and aggravation. Most lines in the song rhymed making it capturing and easier to listen to for the audience. It was informal, using many slurs and neologisms commonly used today in speech. The purpose of it being in this way is so that not only is it easier to understand, but also because that’s where Joyner comes from. It’s his background and the way he speaks without this it would make what he’s saying seem not truthful. He is also very logical throughout the song, not only does he give examples from his life and of racism but also names people like Donald Trump, Obama, and 2Pac. He backs up his claims consistently throughout making himself very reliable and knowledgeable.
Though this video only covered accounts of a black and a white male, it applies to all of society. Humans have a single mindset of people based off of race, sex, religion, age, and sexual identity whether they realize it or not. These stereotypes are often a dangerous mindset to have. People can’t truly know someone else and where they come from, unless we have a conversation with them. Joyner’s main message is that, “agree to disagree, we could have a understanding” a lyric at the end of his song. Goes to show that talking, even if it’s arguing, leads to understanding and even if people disagree they can now respect each other. This understanding could dissolve stereotypes and hate in this world. There are always two sides to every story and the world is not in black and white, it is in a beautiful rainbow of colors that has so much potential. There needs to be a change so the world will stop being in pain.
Lucas, Joyner. I’m Not Racist. YouTube, Nov. 2017, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43gm3CJePn0.
Acosta, David, and Kupiri Ackerman-Barger. “Breaking the Silence.” Academic Medicine: Time to Talk about Race and Racism, vol. 92, no. 3, 2017, pp. 285–288., doi:10.1097/acm.0000000000001416.
Clair, Matthew, and Jeffery S Dennis. The Sociology of Racism. Elsevier , 2015.