In the months leading up to the 2008 American presidential election, I was living in the middle of Nebraska and remember seeing pro-Obama pickets in people’s front yards. Just a few days later, these same pickets had been vandalised with racist slogans. Around the same time, I remember getting into fights with other students because they were saying all sorts of racist things about some of my teammates; they referred to me as a “n***** lover” for protecting my point guard. I wondered then – if America ended up having a Black president, would any of that mindset change?
All that racism didn’t stop Obama in the end; he won and (most of) my dorm erupted in celebration. We drank (sorry, coach) and smoked (sorry, mum) all night in hope of “change” from here on out. And there was change – Obama has done a lot of good. Unfortunately, eight years on, a lot of America’s mindset seems to have remained unchanged, and they are moving dangerously close to allowing the Hitler-esque Donald Trump to become a serious contender in the 2016 presidential race.
Luckily, people are taking a stand. American citizens of all backgrounds are attending Trump rallies with camera phones, ready to expose just how racist and dangerous Trump’s views are towards people of colour. And it is not only your average citizen taking it upon themselves to do so: it seems the entire hip-hop community is helping to create public awareness around this issue.
Rappers are doing more than just exposing Trump – they are also asking people to vote. It is good to see rappers like T.I. guiding America’s youth with a call-to-action for them to go out and vote this year. “Failing to vote is a vote for this clown,” T.I. wrote on Instagram. This is an important message to spread, and I remember some of my African-American teammates saying, “If Obama doesn’t win, then the country is full of racists” – but nobody could tell me his policies, and none of them were registered to vote, and the ones that were only did it for cheaper tuition fees.
Ok,So Dis what WE doin America? Is this the representative u want to lead the free world? Dis ain’t about race,religion,democrat,or republican… Dis is a pure question of character, a lack of moral fabric, & fundamental principles. We are no longer the greatest nation if we let dis slide. He’s making a mockery of democracy. IF I GOT ANYTHING TO DO WIT IT AINT NO WAY DIS SH*T GOIN DOWN!!!! I don’t care who else u vote for,what political party they represent, or why you choose them….JUST VOTE!!! Failing to vote is a vote for This CLOWN!!!#OpperationANYONEbutTRUMP RP: @tyrese
Killer Mike interviewed Sanders late last year, and discussed with him a broad range of issues, including the alarming racism that has emerged at Trump rallies across the country. “I played Mexico City … and I yelled, ‘Fuck Trump!’ and basically 20,000 Mexican citizens repeated it,” Killer Mike told Sanders.
Last week, the people of Chicago took to the streets and protested Trump’s rally. After successfully forcing Trump to call off the rally, the protestors began to chant “We gon’ be alright,” from Kendrick Lamar’s Alright. This upset not only Trump but also Trump Jr. (God help us, there is more than one). But not to worry, as John Legend, with an elegant straight-to-the-point Tweet, has put the Junior Satanist in his place:
.@DonaldJTrumpJr I think they were protesting your racist father. This isn’t complicated.
— John Legend (@johnlegend) March 12, 2016
A number of other hip-hop artists have also been vocal in their rejection of Trump’s candidacy. Rapper (and fellow 2016 Presidential candidate – yes, seriously) Waka Flocka Flame took to Twitter to let Trump know that what he said about Mexican immigrants being criminals was downright ignorant and untrue. Will Smith also threatened to run in the election to prevent Trump from winning (and perhaps a more realistic candidate than Waka Flocka and Kanye 2020), saying: “If people keep saying all the crazy stuff that they have been saying on the news lately about walls and Muslims… they are going to force me into the political arena. I gotta be the president. What else would I run for?”
In an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, last year, Atlanta rapper/singer Raury wore a Mexican soccer jersey with the word ‘Trump’ written on the back and crossed out with a big red line. This might seem like minor statement, but was a very bold move considering Trump was on the show earlier that same evening. Raury later told Vice that his decision to wear the jersey was because “Trump embodies separation, solving problems with anger, fear and personal differences,” while he is about the opposite, being inclusive and open.
Mac Miller meanwhile may have hip-hop’s longest running beef with Trump. After Trump threatened to sue Miller for using his name in his hit song, Donald Trump, Miller has blasted him repeatedly on Twitter and has taken it a step further in a recent appearance on The Nightly Show – check it out below:
In the midst of all that’s going on surrounding Trump, it seems that no matter who you are or what you are doing, hip-hop is ready to stand behind you to fight for this common cause. This week, protestor Thomas DiMassimo made the news when he attempted to charge at Trump on Saturday in Dayton, Ohio, and was captured by Trump’s security. During the altercation, his Dreamville shirt was ripped, and he was straight devo about it. But Dreamville applauded his efforts and offered him a box of Dreamville gear to replace the torn shirt. This is one of those heartfelt stories that everyone in the world has now heard, like the man who gets yearly visits from the penguin he raised (if you don’t know that story, I suggest you read up right now).
Hip-hop is one of the strongest voices of today’s generation; their influence on society is forever growing. Every day another rapper joins the battle to stop Trump, and hopefully, in return, every day another one of America’s youth signs up to vote.