Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Macklemore with Jamila Woods and other artists- White Privilege II

31 Jan

White Privilege 2 interview with Jay Smooth

White Privilege 2 interview with Jay Smooth

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis just released their eight-minute song, White Privilege II (Apparently, Macklemore recorded a song White Privilege in 2005), and as expected it is being met with a mix of guarded praise, skepticism, and direct criticism.

It’s definitely complicated.  A white rapper, raps about his own white privilege, his place in wanting to help break down the systems of racism but feeling awkward about how to do that, yet benefiting from the very systems that uphold white supremacy.

Opinions on social media vary widely.  There are people of color and white people who think the song is a good thing–that it will wake white people up, spark dialogue, and action.  There are people of color and white people who say that Macklemore’s latest song is just another attention-getting moment for the rapper to position himself as a white savior, with the help of token black artists, or that he is putting himself at the center of the issue of racism by constantly calling attention to his feelings of uncomfortability while trying to figure out how he can become a part of anti-racist work, without offending people of color.

People also are making note of the fact that the message of white privilege is going to be more easily heard from this white messenger, when black artists have been trying to say the same thing for years, or have tried but haven’t had the same opportunities to succeed in the industry, as this more palatable rapper.  And some, just dislike the song because they think Macklemore is a lot less talented than both famous and lesser known hip-hop artists of color.

I have to take a closer listen to the song, and process my thoughts and feelings about it, but for now I feel my thoughts align with those of Deray McKesson, one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement who tweeted that he thinks the song is important in terms of bringing awareness and creating dialogue, but also makes it clear that Macklemore is no savior, and that the artist should be open to critique of the song, and most important of all, to go beyond talk, and take action to break down the systems of racism. He wants Macklemore, and other white people to go beyond merely being aware of our privilege, and then going on our merry ways living the same way. Yet, I can also see why some people of color are keeping a close eye on Macklemore and are not quite so quick to give him the same pass they have given artists like Eminem and Justin Timberlake when it comes to seeing him as a white artist who is using cultural appropriation to his benefit rather than being seen as someone who is more genuinely a part of that culture.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have set up a website: www.whiteprivilege2.com which outlines the process they used to connect and collaborate with artists and activists of color to create the song, and to further discuss how Macklemore and Lewis can use their platform and the song, White Privilege 2, to bring about change.

Please listen to the song, and the two links below, and form your own opinions, and please share them here. Aside from the song, I’ve included an interview that appeared on www.colorlines.com with Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, poet, singer, Jamila Woods, poet, singer-songwriter, Hollis Wong-Wear, anti-racist activist, Dustin Washington, and hip-hop scholar, cultural commentator and radio host, Jay Smooth.  Beneath the interview is a link to a video by Gozi Kodzo, who calls himself a revolutionary, and African Internationalist, who doesn’t like Macklemore’s efforts, and he will very plainly tell you why.

The Jay Smooth interview featured on Colorlines:



 Gazi Kodzo’s Take on White Privilege II:

Now, readers, please share your thoughts and feelings on the song and Macklemore here.  And, as Macklemore notes in his interview with Jay Smooth, I hope that more white people will speak and share, since he says they/we are often afraid of making a misstep, of being called racist, of offending.  The question I’ve heard people of color say, and one which I ask myself, and by extension, you, “What’s more important–to worry about being called a racist, or being complacent with your awareness of your privilege yet not doing anything about it, even being willing to talk with a person of color so we can understand better how we can act.

Thank you.








Dustin Washington

Peoples Institute For Survival And Beyond

Photo credit: www.colorlines.com

4 Responses to “Wendy Jane’s Weekend Sounds: Macklemore with Jamila Woods and other artists- White Privilege II”

  1. Sherry Gordon January 31, 2016 at 7:39 am #

    Dear Wendy Jane,

    Hi, there, Wendy Jane, my so, so very dearly special and so, so very dearly precious sister and friend who you are For Always so, so very much!!!!!!! Sister, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE and so, so very much love and like this beautiful blog post article of yours, my so very dearest friend!!!!!! This is so very detailed and thorough, and very inspiring, uplifting, insightful, and enlightening, sister!!!!!!! Wendy Jane, I so, so very much love and like this by our splendid white brothers, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and by our brilliant black sister, Jamila Woods!!!!!!! Wow, our Jamila Woods has such a bright and sparkling, powerful and beautiful voice here!!!!!! I think here you all as wonderful white persons deserve a huge chance and to find and have your voice to feel empowered as allies-for each and every one of you to gain your confidence in navigating the very tricky terrain of learning, healing, and growing to be white anti-racist persons, sisterfriend! I can bear witness to here and just see and listen to how Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are very undauntedly initiating their very process of learning and of growth here, and I am so, so very proud of our white brothers, just as I am so, so very proud of you, my marvelous white sister who you are For Always so, so very much, Wendy Jane, and other fantabulous white persons!!!!!!! I have such love for, complete confidence, complete trust, faith, hope, and belief in you, my so very dearest sisterfriend, Wendy Jane, in Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and in other white persons that each and every one of you can find yourselves and truly be productively proactive white anti-racist persons, sister!!!!!!! I am here for you For Always, my white sisterfriend Wendy Jane, and for other fabulous white people, very, very delightfully and eagerly cheering each and every one of you on in your very, very understandably imperfect life’s path and journey, my friend!!!!!!! I feel so very wholeheartedly positive and optimistic about this greatly monumental effort by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Jamila Woods here, sister!!!!!!! I feel that in the Colorlines interview that they asked very pertinent and powerfully strong questions, and that Macklemore presented himself very, very well with such an open and honest demeanor in what I consider to be his very sincere motivation in creating this song with the others!!!!!! He handled himself really well in this interview and he was very engaged in the frank talk and conversation!!!!!! I trust in the very sincerity and the motivation of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and that they’ll follow through for sure in taking the initiative to further their growth in proactively productive anti-racism as empowering white anti-racist allies and brothers!!!!!!! Gazi Kodzo’s video broke my heart!!!!!! I have very strong disagreements with Gazi Kodzo!!!!!!! I think that you my so, so very dearest and darling white friend and sister, Wendy Jane, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and very, very many other astounding white persons deserve a huge chance and to be given the benefit of the doubt, and for your motives to be trusted, and to have the lovingly sensitive and patient care as each and every one of you very gingerly grow in your very process!!!!!!! You can count on me, sister, as the black woman who I am to have your back, and for me to never ever give up on you, my so very dear white sisterfriend, Wendy Jane, and not on other white persons, and that I have such complete confidence in each and every one of you that you all have such greatly immense potential inside for such abundant positive good!!!!!! That’s my promise and you can count on me to be there for you, sister, and other white persons can count on me to give all of you the very benefit of the doubt, and to have my complete trust and my complete confidence in all of you!!!!!!! Yay sister yay sisterfriend yay my friend Wendy Jane yay!!!!!!!

    Sister, please have a Very Happy, Superbly Super Sunday and wondrously wonderful week coming up next week, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed, Wendy Jane!!!!!!! YOU Wendy Jane, and your so very dear writings are such joys and blessings for me, and being your so very dear friend and sister, and responding to your cool blog post articles with my very heartfelt comments give me such joy, blessing, and pleasure, sisterfriend!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so, so very dearest white sister and friend, Wendy Jane, with Peace and Love To You For Always, my sister, and with such Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always, my so very dear friend,

    Your sisterfriend lesbian black woman in the spirit and solidarity For Always, Sherry Gordon

    • Wendy Jane January 31, 2016 at 9:34 am #

      Hi Sherry,

      Thanks so much for your contribution here. I was looking forward to what you would say about the song, and appreciate your opinion. I want to believe, too, that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are sincere in their efforts to want to do more than just have the conversation, and though it is uncomforable and they may not always know how to handle themselves, that at least they are taking the actions to bring white privilege and systems of racism to the forefront–even though black people have been trying to say this for years and years–and take action beyond words.

      Thanks again for trusting in white people to learn how to be anti-racist allies.

      Your sisterfriend in solidarity,

      Wendy Jane

  2. Elissa February 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm #

    So I checked out your blog yesterday but didn’t have a chance to listen to the song until this morning on the way to work. I have to say I could relate to some of what Macklemore says in the fact of when do I speak up and support and when should I shut up and not say anything because, as a white person, it may not be my place. If nothing else I know that Macklemore has the people talking. I hate when anyone tries to tear anyone else down even if they do not agree. Everyone is going to have a different point of view depending on their experiences. Macklemore may not be 100% right but I hope he is trying to do his part. Maybe he will donate money to BlackLivesMatter or something, to show that he isn’t doing this to make money. I’m glad you shared this because I had not heard of it.

    • Wendy Jane February 1, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

      Hi Elissa,

      Thanks for checking out the post and listening to the song and sharing your reflections here. Yes, I can relate to being much more conscious of how I enter a space where racism is being discussed, and letting black people take the lead in the conversation and action. He does have a website http://www.whiteprivilege2.com where he outlines the artists and activists and organizations he is engaged with, including Black Lives Matter, and he does say he is in this for the long-term and wishes to use this platform to take action and support black-led anti-racist organizations with finances and other resources, so it will be interesting to see what evolves.

      Thanks again,

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