After reading an excerpt from White Like Me, by Tim Wise and seeing the movie White Like Me, I was instantly reminded of the song Macklemore released in 2005, “White Privilege” and the song he released in 2016, “White Privilege II.” White Like Me, is a personal account from Tim Wise about white privilege and his conception of racism in American society through his experiences with his family and in his community. It addressed issues of race in America and how race plays in society in America and all the ugly truth behind it.
Macklemore, for people who don’t know is a white rapper that came from Seattle, Washington, and really came into the lime light when he released his single, “Thrift Shop” in 2012. However, before he was famous, he made a song, “White Privilege” that addressed in a lot of the issues that White Like Me did as well. Macklemore is a white rapper, which should speak volumes in and amongst itself, in this track he acknowledges that he may be “gentrifying” hip-hop as a white rapper in a black art form, similar to Eminem. In the song, Macklemore doesn’t seem to come to a resolution–rap is who he is, but his privilege is a factor in his success. In 2007, Macklemore talked about the song saying, “Me being white and being in a culture that started predominately with people of color, I feel like it’s my responsibility to address the issue, take it upon myself to do it in a fashion that examines it front and back.”
Fast forward to January 22nd 2016, when the follow up, “White Privilege II” comes out. Macklemore is still addressing issues that are currently still a problem in America and were addressed in White Like Me. “White Privilege II” analyzes a variety of racial issues from various perspectives. Macklemore tells his experience marching in the Ferguson protests following the shooting of Mike Brown–he questions whether or not it was the right thing for him to do. He openly wonders in the song if his music is appropriating Black culture, or if he is disrespecting the art of rap by making more as he says, “Poppy, radio-friendly hits.” The track also features Jamila Woods, a poet and singer from Chicago. Macklemore had a hard time deciding whether or not to write this song, but I’m glad he did, although it didn’t get a ton of attention in the pop culture, it got out there which is the most important part, being able to have your voice being heard even if its a little bit. He said in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, ” It’s easier, as a white person, to be silent about racial injustice. It’s easier. On paper. But it’s not easier on the whole, because injustice affects all of us, whether we know it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not. At a certain point, this song might affect sales, this might affect touring, but it doesn’t matter if I’m not speaking up–if I’m not pushing myself to speak the truth.”