A Black & White Conversation with Derek Minor Part 4: Black Friend & Cultural Appropriation
After a one hour long discussion with Derek Minor about his The Trap album, we took another hour to dive into some heavy questions. The Trap and the conversation about it, unveiled the hardships of a disenfranchised African American community as they struggle to Fly High Above The Trap by Any Means.
Coming into this interview, I found another opportunity. Let’s have an honest and nuanced conversation about race. Yes, not an original idea, but let’s do something a little different. Let’s pretend for a moment, that YOU, not a person of color, had the opportunity to sit down with a black person and ask them anything without recourse. What would you ask? It is in this vein that Derek Minor and I spoke about racial stereotypes, misconceptions, and solutions to help people understand each other better. Instead of shouting and arguing, this is a teachable moment, that takes many of the “rebuttals” toward the African American community, and gives a more thoughtful answer.
It is also important to note, and he acknowledges it, Derek Minor, does not speak for all black people. He is aware that some people may agree with the rebuttals and that others may even fall in the middle. This is his take and interpretation toward the questions being asked.
Without further adieu, Rapzilla presents A Black & White Conversation About Race.
What’s problematic about this sentence? I have a black friend, so I can’t be racist?
Uh, because, the fact that you said that means that you’re misinformed. One, we’re talking culture here. Again, you can have racist ideologies against someone and be best of friends, and not even know you’re being racist. Most of the time when people think racism, they think Ku Klux Clansmen. To be honest, I don’t even care about that dude. I see him coming a mile away. I know he stays over there, I stay where I’m at. We leave each other alone. That guy has very little power.
The dangerous guy is the Ku Klux Clansmen that is the politician but no one knows he is because he’s a politician. Everyone gives him the benefit of the doubt because they say, “He’s making these laws,” and his racist ideologies won’t go into the law book like when you think…we see it now. Politicians have literally created whole bases off of stroking racist sentiment in people. The idea that they won’t affect the laws is mind-blowing to me.
I say all that to say, just because you have a black friend doesn’t mean…then there’s the other person. The person who has a racist ideology. It’s the person who doesn’t even know that he’s racist. They may be a well-intended person but the by-product of things they believe and haven’t worked through, that’s a dangerous person. They don’t see it at all. I think we need to give people grace to be able to grow. We have to give them the grace to be able to improve, and we also have to be patient with people to educate them. Also, those people need to be able to be pliable and realize they don’t know everything. That whole I have a black friend doesn’t mean that your ideology still couldn’t be racist about him.
Here’s another thing I would say. I have a lot of people around me that are white that say some of the most offensive things all the time. But sometimes I just don’t say something just because. I’ve been in scenarios on the road and even churches that have brought me out and treated me like a king. I’ve had someone say some of the most racist things to me. He didn’t even know he was being racist, he was clueless. He was saying those things to me as if I should connect with those things and say, “Yeah, I agree with that.” It was some of the most racist stuff.
I was at this church. This man took me out to dinner and we have a great time. He was a really nice guy. He’s talking about his wife being pregnant. At the time my wife had just had our baby. And I ask, “So how’s it been with your wife being pregnant and all that?” “Yeah, it’s been crazy man. They have some crazy food cravings. Yeah, all my wife wants to eat is fried chicken. She loves it.” And I’m laughing, ‘Yeah, that’s crazy’. “I thought to myself, ‘Babe? Have you been cheating on me? Am I having a black baby’?”
He literally said that me, and I’m looking at him and don’t know how to respond to him. That’s one instance. In his mind, he had been in the environment he was in so long that he felt comfortable. This guy paid for my food and everything to have me come out. He clearly was a fan of the music. He just didn’t realize that that’s a racist stereotype. I don’t think he realized it.
There’s another situation, very similar. It’s another pastor, bringing me out. We’re having a meal and talking, getting personal. This was around the time I tore my Achilles tendon. We’re talking about that and he goes, “Yeah man, I tore my Achilles tendon.” The way the Achilles tears, usually they try and repair it with just your tendon. They put kevlar around it, but sometimes they have to use cadaver tissue if it’s severed really bad. I go, “Yeah they didn’t have to use cadaver tissue in my surgery.” He goes, “Yeah well, when I blew mine, I had to use it. I asked the doctor, “Yo Doc if you use cadaver tissue, can you use it from a black man so I can jump higher?”
He’s saying this because he was an athlete and when he tore it. Now he was cracking a joke but it’s racist. If that person is comfortable enough to have that conversation with me to my face, he’s not ashamed at that at all. That imagine some of the other things he may be ashamed that he believes? That he may feel justified in believing.
That’s the whole idea of: “I have a black friend,” “I don’t see color,” etc. etc.
I guess this is more of a cultural appropriation question. Why would it be bad if, I a white person, dressed in blackface, did cornrows, or tried o show homage to somebody I respect? Say I want to be Lil Wayne for Halloween and I dress up in blackface with cornrows. What is the right way and what is the wrong way?
The reason why blackface is wrong is really simple. In the past, it was used to caricature black people in the most horrible light. Disney has this cartoon with a dark black child. He has these dark red lips and he’s eating watermelon and shooting it like a machine gun out of his mouth. Blackface historically has been used to degrade us. So you dressing in blackface well intended or not is triggering because that has been used historically to degrade us. That would be like dressing up as a Nazi or going around Jews and dressing up as Hitler. No one dresses up as Hitler and thinks that’s okay. Why would it be okay to dress up as a racist troupe and think that’s okay?