Does rap culture influence white supremacy? Before we answer this question, let’s define white supremacy. The definition of white supremacy is the belief that white people are the dominant race and therefore are superior in society, primarily to the exclusion or detriment of other racial, ethnic, or cultural groups.
White supremacy, from a critical point of view, started with slavery. Historically, whites have expressed their dominance through psychological, physical and societal force.
The practice of white supremacy is primarily to the exclusion or detriment of other racial, ethnic, or cultural groups. The social climate in America has shown white supremacy is apparent through political, economic, socio-economic, and racial inequality exemplified by police brutality, racial oppression, stereotypes, falsified history and the expressions of non-white racial groups through mass media.
So now the questions are: Does rap culture and music influence white supremacy? How does rap music and white supremacy intersect? Slavery was the detriment of black people through force, labor and manipulative control. Its purpose was to enslave black people physically and mentally as an entire race.
Black people were also seen as property which equates to profit. Moreover, slavery was imposed on black people as a righteous doing of their enslavers and expressed dominance over slaves for the remainder of human history.
However, politically, slavery was abolished on December 18, 1865, by President Abraham Lincoln. Although slaves were considered free, there were many restrictive provisions such as black codes, designated stores, neighborhoods, restrooms, poor educational institutions and organizations, and the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan. In other words, though black people were “considered” free in a political sense, the freedom of black people was still restricted in various forms.
Furthermore, segregation was a restriction of freedom because African Americans were not allowed to be immersed in America with white people. Segregation further expressed white supremacy and dominance through wealthier and supported organizations and institutions.
The influence of modern rap music on American culture
Undoubtedly, rap music has influenced every aspect of our society, including fashion, politics, mass media, art, religion, technology, language, conspiracy theories, intimate relationships and people. Certainly, rap artists and the music of the present have evolved into a demonic state. Most rap or hip-hop song lyrics consist of domestic violence, drugs use, murder, crime, and provoke evil narratives.
“Exposure to violent portrayals in the media can lead to subsequent viewer aggression through disinhibition. Long-term exposure to media violence is related to aggression in a person’s life. Media violence is related to subsequent violence in society. Exposure to violence in the media can lead to desensitization. People exposed to many violent portrayals over time will come to be more accepting of violence” (Rosenberry & Vicker, 2009, p. 169).
The perpetual exposure to rap music and its culture affects listeners in various ways but significantly affects them psychologically. First, the listeners begin to accept and believe what artists are saying as true, and they begin to aimlessly mimic what they hear.
In addition, exposure to sex, violence and drugs through rap lyrics and music videos can shape the thoughts and behaviors of listeners. The influence of rap music goes beyond psychological and enters a physical spectrum. Many hip-hop and rap fans across the world for decades have dressed like rappers, talked like rappers, are influenced to become rappers and ultimately carry the same beliefs as rappers.
But how does rap intersect with white supremacy? It influences white supremacy immensely.
Why and how rap music amplifies white supremacy
Most rap or hip-hop music is influenced by the environment, struggle and pain of African Americans’ experiences – primarily poverty, abuse, drug addiction, gang culture and violence. Those same experiences are expressed through a vocal or musical medium from the artist’s perception. Though rap music is a reflection of experiences through art, many of those experiences are glorified through rappers praising killers, gang culture, domestic violence, crime, and even claiming to be active in street life. And in some cases they are.
Ironically, those same lyrics are a detriment to black culture because when black people listen to rap music, they feel what rappers are saying, whereas white people are entertained, generally speaking.
Black people living in or around particular environments, people, or cultures tend to live within the artists’ lyrics through their actions, beliefs, and lifestyle centered around crime, violence, sex and drugs. Those beliefs soon become habits which eventually turn into actions that result in killings, robberies, drug use, sex addictions, prison or death. All of this is the narrative of white supremacy and can be mirrored through the contextual and systematic approach to slavery.
During slavery, blacks were taken from their homes, split from their families, manipulated through mental and physical force, and put to death by the choice of a white man. Secondly, for those who are aware of the current state of rap and hip-hop, much of the violence expressed through music is between black artists, which in simple terms is black-on-black crime.
Additionally, through social media, rappers use these platforms as a way to amplify gang retaliation and humiliation of those who are harmed or killed. With public social media, though it may be entertaining for viewers, governmental and political leaders use that content to further prove black culture is self-defeating and to build a case against the rapper or rap community of how rap harms more than it helps.
A cycle of disempowerment
Lastly, the same cycle repeats. The rapper is imprisoned along with those who took his or her lyrics seriously. A black man is then taken away from his family and can no longer provide, the black woman is now isolated from the man, and so are the children. The sentenced black male is forced to follow commands of those in power through force, manipulation and control, and finally, the family is torn apart and the man is soon forgotten by his own people.
White supremacy is not implemented directly but systematically. It is amplified by the actions of the black community which destroys itself through a system set upon blacks and non-white racial, ethnic or cultural groups.
Featured Image: Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash
Edited by: Steven London & James Sutton