Students Respond: Is “I’m Not Racist” Racist?

Sanaa Scott-Wheeler

Staff Writer

On November 28, white-black biracial rapper Joyner Lucas released a music video for a song entitled “I’m Not Racist”.

On December 1, three days after the songs release, the video had 406K likes, 11K dislikes and 5M views. Why all the attention?

The song is told  from the perspective of two men, one white and one black. In the song, the phrase “I’m not racist” is repeated by both men (although they are both voiced by Joyner Lucas) while they both tell their opinions about the other race.

After the song dropped, countless students at Science Leadership Academy took to social media platforms to express their reactions. Several people had reposted the link to the song on social media platforms, with captions reading “SHOOK” or only flame emojis.

Many students  were uncomfortable with the white man’s verse.

“The song made me uncomfortable, but in a necessary way, ” said Sophomore Maren Lamb, who is white. “There are a lot of excuses going around, i’ve heard the phrase “I’m not racist” so many times. A white person who says the N word, can find any reason to not recognize the issue.”

The video walks a careful middle ground, since Joyner-Lucas is technically the voice of the white character. That man mouths the following words:

“I’m not racist, my sister’s boyfriend’s black

I’m not racist, my sister-in-law’s baby cousin Tracy

Got a brother and his girlfriend’s black”

For me personally, the passion in his words made me want to listen to what he was saying even though I did not agree with most of the things that were said. That’s what Joyner Lucas did well, he brought both sides to people’s attention, and people did not have to solve a puzzle to get the meaning.

Many students thought the video was interesting for the sole fact that there was an unpopular opinion explained.

When asked what stood out to her in this song, white and puerto rican, Mia Concepcion related the song to her own family talking about how people act on certain things but never acknowledge the things that may factor into why they act that way.

“Part of my family is caucasian, but no one has ever voiced their ethnicity, they have the privilege so they don’t feel like they have to say anything about it,”

“Neo-liberals tend to not even voice what the other side is,” said Lamb.

The video as a whole left me wanting more, there was not enough on the black man’s part in my opinion I felt like the white man came at the black man’s neck and he sat and took the hate.  There are some things in the song that are hard to explain but people from the same background will understand, so maybe having the black man say less was an artistic choice.

There were  things said in the song that people from the same ethnic background will understand. “In my opinion, I feel like they don’t know where the word comes from and they use it to just be down with everyone” said Senior Deja Harrison, who is Black.

“I feel like we use the word for empowerment, and it’s our word now, the fact that white people are still saying that is disrespectful and kind of takes people back to that time when everything was unequal, I feel like that time is still alive. Enough change hasn’t happened for everybody to be able to say that word.”

“We shouldn’t say it but we do, and that just what it is

But that don’t mean that you can say it just ’cause you got n**** friends”

A line from the black man’s character.

The song had some political references to modern controversial topics, including Colin Kaepernick:

” N****s kneelin’ on the field, that’s a flag down.

How dare you try to make demands for this money?

You gon’ show us some respect, you gon’ stand for this country,n*****!

said by the white man.

The song also voiced stereotypes that have been made about black people:

“But you’re lazy as f*** and “you’d rather sell drugs than get a job and be straight and then you turn around and complain about the poverty rate”

said by the white man’s character.

As I talked to multiple students, no one beat around the bush on the topic, which was refreshing.  

“He was trying to make the song accessible,” said Sophomore Thea Risher, who is White. “There were some points in both arguments that were valid, but others that were wrong.”

The way the video ended, with the two men hugging made me uneasy only because it was clear everything that was said made the two men mad. To “hug it out” it doesn’t feel genuine to me. It does seem like an important symbol for brotherly love but I feel like there was a better way to portray the message that they get along.


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