Cover photo by Cassandra Moses Photography
In the music world, winning a Grammy is a HUGE accomplishment. I imagine it would be a life highlight to many. A moment filled with joy, pride, and awesomeness you’d never want to forget. Unless your name is Ben Haggerty. Then that moment might be one filled with inner turmoil and the need to defend against the masses.
Hearing that Macklemore won 4 Grammys last night made me proud to be from the great Northwest. The man has worked hard and put out some great music, so I feel a few awards are deserved; albeit, it well past his October 2012 release. What I feel like he didn’t deserve was the outrage coming from both the Black and LGBT communities.
Before I go any further, I want to say that I am not a spokesperson for the Black community and I’m not even a member of the LGBT community. Therefore my opinions are mine and mine alone.
So what’s the big deal? Here you have a white man winning awards for hip-hop. Whether many would like to believe so or not, hip-hop is a subculture of Black culture so any time a white person receives top honors we’re going to be a little wary. Not that Macklemore isn’t a great artist. Not that his album wasn’t among the best. But in the world of hip-hop, he’s the minority and he had to beat many of his Black counterparts to get there.
The Grammys has also had a history of dogging the hip-hop world, so it makes you wonder why. If there were more white rappers than Black, would all the rap awards be televised? Would we have more hip-hop performances during the show? One may never know. Why is it even a problem? Well I touched on that a bit in the post I wrote concerning the difference in reactions to Richard Sherman and Justin Bieber’s recent bad behavior.
Unless you’re amongst those who think we live in a post-racial society, I think you’d agree that we live in a world where white > Black far too often. People have irrational fears of Black men, so it just makes sense to put a non-threatening white guy on our TV screens instead. Plus those who voted on the Grammys probably don’t know a whole lot about rap, so they may have just voted for the most familiar person. The one who gets the most radio time and talk show appearances. And well, yeah.
Giving an award to Maklemore over Kendrick Lamar definitely has the Black community outraged. Many, including Macklemore, would argue that Kendrick’s album was better. And on that basis, the snub struck an all too familiar cord. It just seems that Blacks rarely get their shine. We can still count on one hand how many Black men have won an Oscar for best actor, even fewer Black women have won the equivalent. This could be another case of the powers that be choosing the white person over the Black person. But is that Macklemore’s fault?
Then you have the LGBT community upset that he is being used as the face for the gay rights movement. And let’s just be honest here. Macklemore is straight, but he does advocate for gay rights. His song, Same Love delivers a powerful message that is not often heard coming from a rapper, so I do believe he deserves kudos for that. However, there are actually plenty of artists in the LGBT community who have messages to deliver as well. If only they had the stardom to back said message. So again, you have the wholesome straight white guy thrust into the role as the face of a movement he is only a part of by association. But is that Macklemore fault?
I’m not saying don’t be upset. The Black community as well as the LBGT community have to fight for proper representation and recognition. Unfortunately, it seems like the only way to fight racism and homophobia is to have a member of the privileged class talk some sense into their peers. These movements need people like Macklemore as allies, but the media is dead wrong for trying to make him the end-all-be-all to hip-hop culture and the gay rights movement.
So be mad at the media. Be mad at the TV networks, the radio stations, the giant media companies (and the government officials who back them). Complain about the inequalities. Scold the Grammys for their unfair voting practices, and can somebody say something about Madonna or have we already forgotten that she reffered to her son as #DisNigga?
The point is, a little boy name Ben Haggerty once dreamed of winning a Grammy, but due to things beyond his control, his magical moment was overshadowed by all of this negativity. We’re proud of you Macklemore. We thank you for at least acknowledging the injustices because you really could just accept it all and act like nobody was wronged in the process. I will say thoough, if you keep talking about how Kendrick Lamar was robbed, you might want to go ahead and give that Grammy to him. No shame in it, but talk is cheap.