Speaking from a place of straight white male privilege, Macklemore has become a polarizing figure accused of cultural appropriation and opportunistic endorsement of gay marriage. Faced with a heady mix of praise and scorn, the Seattle-born rapper isn’t backing down.
His latest track “White Privilege II” gives listeners a lot to process. Recognizing his own privilege, Macklemore ruminates on the best way to be an ally, and not a white knight. He calls out other white artists accused of cultural appropriation, including Elvis, Miley Cyrus, and Iggy Azalea. He takes his fans to task, re-enacting an interaction where a mom praised him for his “positive” use of hip hop while she dismissed the music’s political history and righteous rage. He laments, “It seems like we’re more concerned with being called racist, than we are with racism,” then challenges his listeners to join the dialogue and get involved:
“We take all we want from black culture. But will we stand up for black lives?”