Recently the world has been given the visual for the song “I’m Not Racist,” by hip hop artist Joyner Lucas. The song and music video depicts a description of modern day America when it comes to racial attitudes and incentives. The visual starts off with a Caucasian actor wearing a red ‘Make America Great Again’ rapping the lyrics of the song. Many people were tricked into thinking he was the actual artist of the song; already fooled, we were then were shocked by the use of the N-word from the Caucasian actor as he attacked and criticized the African American actor across the table from him.
The Caucasian actor took several shots at the African American man with popular stereotypes. Not only his words, but his appearance, the hat, tucked in shirt with jeans, and his demeanor fit the type of person he was trying to come off as. After he was done with his attack, it was his counterpart’s turn to send shots back at him. Once again, hitting on common stereotypes and dressed to fit the part.
Before we go on, it is important to give the proper definition of a stereotype.
These “widely held but fixed and oversimplified images or ideas” are usually thought of as disadvantages, or unfavorable circumstances. So how can we make light of these disadvantages and these things that hold us back? The answer is: trickery.
Trickery was the major part of the “I’m Not Racist” music video. From the jump, we saw a Caucasian male staring at you with a “Make America Great Again” hat in the thumbnail of the video. Controversial. Then the clickbait image gave a sense about what the music video was going to be about. Moreover, the video was placed in a appropriate time in American history where the country is extremely divided. As soon the song starts you hear the first lines, “With all due respect/ i don’t have pity for you black n*ggas, thats the way I feel.” The line was almost expected and almost not expected as it was from a Caucasian man.
The script is flipped when we see the African American man sitting down quietly as if he wasn’t going to say anything. Here is when second trick came along. It went against the original thumbnail, which focused completely on the Caucasian. The African American rose from his seat and counterattacked the opposition. A lot of people who have never heard of Joyner Lucas then assumed the African American was the true rapper. And once again, the trickery won.
This is the essence of using disadvantages to an advantage. Joyner Lucas uses prejudices (a disadvantage in some cases) to cultivate the viewers thinking into a more understanding mindset – tricking you from the get-go. It allowed each side to spread some ideas to each other in order to prompt a society that does not recognize people by their color. The way to fight and end racism, homophobia or any hate is the simply understand. The objective of the “I’m Not Racist” song and video was to trick the viewer into understanding racial attitudes by using the disadvantages/stereotypes of each culture in a creative and unexpected way. These disadvantages lead to the advantage of prompting awareness on racism.
There is a paradox within this entire situation. It is that Joyner Lucas was not a commonly known hip-hop artist. He was at a disadvantage with the over saturated market of artists trying to find a way to get his music heard. With so many people to listen to, why him? Moreover, it is important to know that just because he was not extremely popular, doesn’t mean that he did not have a good amount of supporters before his “I’m Not Racist” work. He uses his disadvantage in popularity to make a video that tricks you in every which way. Ultimately, building curiosity in your mind of who this guy is since you don’t know his voice and do not recognize his name.
Here is a graph of the term ‘Joyner Lucas’ over the past 12 months in Google Trends.
The graph represents the interest of Joyner Lucas over time. The spike is on the week on November 26 – December 2, 2017. Throughout the entire year, we can see that his popularity was not high. However, when he released the video and song, there was the spike.
This is how we can use our disadvantage to win – by tricking the opposition.
For those who have not seen the “I’m Not Racist” video, here is the link: