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Last week, a struggling English rapper by the name of Alex Dutty re-uploaded his video for a track called "Proud To Be White". It was initially released two years ago, but was later removed only to be reinstated during one of the most racially tense times ever (see: Mike Brown, Eric Garner). The song itself talks of his pride of being white and his appreciation for other white rappers, like Eminem and Skinnyman, while the accompanying visuals come complete with swastikas, skinheads, the burning of the Union Jack and 'Heil Hitler' salutes. As to be expected, Dutty's latest cry has had mixed reactions: some support it as free speech, others have compared it to Bashy's "Black Boys", and most are completely disgusted by it.
While I would never knock someone for being happy with who they are, I have some serious issues with the title, song, music video and timing of its release. Firstly, this issue is not about political correctness. It's about understanding the systematic effects of hate that have been going on for hundreds of years. Rather than Googling the German who owns New Era, like Dutty suggests we do, we should probably learn and respect the culture and its history of what we so heavily enjoy. The appropriation of black culture has its problems and J. Cole says it all on his recently leaked track, "Fire Squad": "History repeats itself and that's just how it goes/ Same way that these rappers always bite each other's flows, same thing that my ni**a Elvis did with rock 'n' roll/ Justin Timberlake, Eminem and then Macklemore... / While silly ni**as argue over who gon' snatch the crown, look around my ni**a, white people have snatched the sound."
One thing that stood out in Dutty's white empowerment track was the line: "They say it's a white man's world, but I don't even own anything." The term 'white man's world' is nothing to do with ownership of goods, but the idea of freedom. Are you refused a property to rent because of your whiteness? Are you proud that, because of your birth right privilege, you automatically get seven months shorter sentences for doing the same crime as one of your black friends? Ignoring the daily privileges of being white is totally ignorant, and making a track about how proud you are of it is pushing on self-absorbed.
Ignoring the daily privileges of being white is totally ignorant, but to go and make a track about how proud you are of it is pushing on self-absorbed.
Alex Dutty attempts to half compare his 'struggles' to real social prejudices, and then comes with the 'we're all in this together' and 'we're all the same under our skin' talk; his message is just full of confusion. As one YouTuber commented, "Why not 'human' pride?" Putting the music on mute makes a lot more sense of the video, however, it still comes across very deceptive in the angle it takes. In one breath he says: "They label me a racist because I'm proud to be alive/ In order to be true to myself, I'm not ashamed, I'm proud to be white", before confusing the situation even more with: "All this stuff about colours confused us, there's no way I can be ashamed! You gotta be proud of how you're made. We're all the same inside but only the power and money divide us!"
Is Dutty saying that being working class is what he's proud of? Or, is he lost in his identity so much that he's now jumped on the bandwagon of a rusty carriage funded by the BNP and EDL? The old 'I'm not racist, I have black friends' statement is completely see-through; the rapper seems totally divided in the direction of the whole song, one that could easily become an anthem for either of the previously mentioned groups. Some may argue he's added some parts to avoid association with said groups but, more often than not, 'pride' is borne through the experience of collective oppression from minority groups: gay pride, Black pride, Asian pride etc.
The Kofi Annan quote at the end of the video ("Racism can, will, and must be defeated") could also come off as perpetuating the very thing it argues and shows, at the very least, a misunderstanding of Annan's whole argument. Whether you agree with me or not, anyone who has the audacity to release a song about white pride at a time when we're witnessing videos and reports of murders of unarmed African Americans by law enforcement, is clearly using a controversial angle to promote their desperate attempts at "making it big." Epic, epic fail.
Laura 'Hyperfrank' Brosnan is a music and culture writer living in London. Find her on Twitter @Hyperfrank.