Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Go and Read Hawking

One last go on this, and then I am done (apart from roundly condemning Anonymous - more on that later).

I am really not qualified to make a critique of the race issue in the battles of the rappers. Better commentators have joined in - with any luck, the limited arguments of the protagonist and antagonist are going to be replaced by a more thoughtful chorus and cast, including this messenger speech by Tom Hawking. I wish Jezebel would step up, too: the debate is getting a bit sausage heavy, but their contribution is weak sauce (it attacks Anonymous, but doesn't really follow the detail of their behaviour). 

Anyway, the politics of race in Australia, the UK and the USA are very different: they all have racism, but its history diverges in the three countries. Slavery is a more immediate issue in the US: mistreating aboriginals is the big one in Australia (and the anti-immigration policies the current government seem to love): British racism, which I have some idea about, is a complex mash-up of factors. It's telling that I don't turn the racism I know about into a catch-phrase.

No one’s saying a white Australian girl can’t rap — as I've written before, the idea that any performance of black music by white people is a matter of appropriation or theft only serves to disempower the subaltern, because it depicts them as a passive figures whose culture only exists to be pillaged by whites. This clearly isn't true, and it’s also not reflective of the history of hip hop, which is more multicolored than one might think. And again, if you actually listen to Banks’ interview, she says very clearly that she has no problem with white people making rap music: “I don't give a fuck… do what you want to do.”

Hawking has listened to Banks, and he observes that she isn't talking just about a pop rival, but the generations of oppression that African Americans have experienced. 

Wait a minute: Hawking is good. I am just directing myself to read more of his writing. And then I shall have a go at that Billy Corgan interview.

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