I Say So: Racism in Pop Culture

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Written by Wesley Hardin

Overt Racism Has Been Replaced With Taboo”

In the 21
st century, racism is real. Prejudice at its most offensive has left the race riots of yesteryear, and moved into the politically moderate American subconscious. Of course, no one in his or her right mind would declare their hatred for some ethnic minority and pledge their allegiance to a white-supremacist cult. But does that change the fact that a white, protestant father from the Midwest finds the new graffiti-inspired mural in his neighborhood trashy and tasteless? Does it change the fact that somewhere a socially-conservative white mother smiles forcibly in discomfort when her child talks about Hispanic heritage month at school, or that the first thought that enters that same mother’s head when her child brings a home new Latin-American friend is the legal status of his or her surely Mexican parents? Overt racism in America has been replaced with taboo, with subtle acts of white preference in nearly every area of society. Take, for example, the music industry. At the 2015 Video Music Awards, Nicki Minaj’s cultural phenomenon “Anaconda” was nominated for two awards: Best Female Video and Best Hip-Hop Video. Undoubtedly omitted was the award for Best Video of the Year. Anaconda, a complete cultural phenomenon and an anthem of sexual liberation, had broken the VEVO view record set by the previous Best Video Winner, had easily surpassed the impact of the 2014 video, and yet was robbed a nomination. Perhaps if Minaj were a different kind of artist, her work would not have been sidelined into categories of Hip-Hop and Female Video. Perhaps if Minaj were thin, and white, and made music in a traditionally non-black genre, the white panel of VMA judges might have seen her as worthy. Perhaps if Minaj had kept her mouth shut about the injustice after nominations had been posted, she might not have been labeled by social media as “just another angry black woman” criticizing nonexistent oppression. Racism in America, although difficult to eradicate once established, is simple to uproot when young. While a misguided white mother cannot help noticing the race of her child’s friend, she can help what her child notices.