Saturday, April 23, 2016

I Wish I Knew What the Song Was Called.

The kids I was working with today worked hard. They also listened to loud rap full of misogyny and words we're taught not to say. I had plenty of time to think about the awful lyrics I listened to when I was younger, and while it surprises me now that it didn't bother me then... it didn't bother me then. I didn't internalize those messages, and I don't think anyone else I knew internalized those messages.

I'm also not about to pretend that famous white rock bands, the kind white people point to as the epitome of talent, don't have songs about things like having a big dick. It's merely coded differently, in ways that previous generations enjoyed, and they in turn pretended to younger generations that the coding didn't exist. This is part of why we think of yesteryear as more "wholesome" even though a) it wasn't, and b) it was way more awful in many ways for most people around the world. I ain't gonna be mad at rappers for just coming out and saying the same things in plainer language.

I said nothing about the music. The kids worked hard.

Toward the end of their shift, a different kind of song came on. A song about not hiding one's blackness to placate the kinds of people who will find a man scarier based on the color of his skin. A song about not being afraid to fight against inequality. A song that confronted the societal perception that the lives of POC are less valuable.

That song? I hope the kids do internalize what it had to say. I hope that their generation won't rest on "It's better than it was, I guess." I hope they never have to wonder whether their job application was turned down because their name didn't sound "white" enough. I hope they don't have to tell their kids about how to deal with the police and not get shot. I hope they live lives less fraught. I hope they live.

Those kids worked hard. I'm proud of them.

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