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After winning a game on Saturday the Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse team celebrated by singing songs together on their team bus. Among those songs was a rap song called “Freaky Friday,” by a rapper named Lil Dicky featuring Chris Brown. (I have never felt older than while writing that last sentence.) I hadn’t heard that song because it isn’t on the regular rotation of my usual kid’s place live series of children’s music that generally plays when I drive anywhere in my car.
Plus, I’m not a big music guy anyway; you’re reading an article by the only adult under forty in America who has never purchased a single song on iTunes. Literally the only song on my iTunes page is the free album U2 gave away. (Hate to brag, but I am familiar with every popular song from roughly 1992 to 2008 when I still paid attention to music or had ample time to spend out at bars. Aka, before I had kids.)
So I didn’t know anything about this controversy until a buddy who graduated from Virginia Tech, Josh Parcell, sent me a Deadspin link last night. I looked at the headline, “Video shows Virginia Tech Women’s Lacrosse Team Chanting the N-Word; Coach Calls It Teachable Moment,” and I thought, damn, that sounds like it could be a big story.
Hey @Deadspin was the Virginia Tech women’s team chanting racial slurs or were they singing along to one of the most popular rap songs in America? This is pathetic, and fake news. pic.twitter.com/FrWAUhn7wm
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) March 28, 2018
Then I clicked on the link and watched a Snapchat video of several college girls singing along to a popular rap song they like. And I thought to myself, holy hell, is this really where we are now as a country, when a bunch of college kids singing a popular song is racism? And when Deadspin, a site founded to make sports more funny and irreverent, now makes up fake, racebaiting headlines to further foment racial division in this country. Seriously, were these girls “chanting the n-word” or were they singing along to a popular rap song?
This is made all the more ridiculous when, wait for it, the rap song in question is poking fun at the absurdities of our racial classifications and seeking to examine what life would be like inside someone of a different race’s skin.
I know it sounds crazy, but context matters in today’s society. Yes, context, the lost art of nuance, where most of us dwell on a day to day basis. At least those of us who aren’t perpetually triggered and outraged every single day by things online. If you want to feel better about America, go listen to today’s AM Outkick discussing the issue in great detail, from a variety of perspectives. Seriously, do it. It’s a testament to how far Deadspin has moved when a national sports talk radio show has a more interesting — and diverse — dialogue about a sports story involving race than their website does.
We had open phone lines for three hours and not one caller said this was racist. (And, yes, callers were from all races.) I also put up a poll question on Twitter and so far with 20k votes cast 90% of people agree it wasn’t racist.
Was it racist for the Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse team to rap along every word to Lil Dicky’s “Freaky Friday,” song?
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) March 28, 2018
That’s because this was not using a racial slur to denigrate others based on their race, it was singing along to a popular rap song to celebrate the song.
It’s a perfect example of the American melting pot. You remember the idea of a melting pot, right? The concept that America takes what everyone from a variety of different races, ethnicities, religions, and sexes creates and makes it better and more popular for everyone.
That’s how salsa surpassed ketchup in America. As a group we all decided, you know what, salsa is fucking amazing. We should eat more of it. That’s how the American melting pot works, we take something from elsewhere and make it popular here. And, frequently, in the process, American dynamicism and our capital markets make that product even better than the original.
There’s a cultural war right now between people who believe in the melting pot, aka people like me, and far left wingers who are primarily active on the Internet and in sports media who believe in something called “cultural appropriation.” What people who allege cultural appropriation really want is for the races to be separate and for the days of Jim Crow to return, when everyone only consumed content created by people like them, and everyone was isolated into their own worlds divided by race.
I fundamentally reject that notion because it is leading us backwards, not forwards. Also because the concept of cultural appropriation is absolute bullshit. The Greeks and Romans created our foundations of democracy. Should we not be able to borrow from them to create American democracy? Coffee came from either Africa or the Middle East depending on which origination story you believe, should the rest of us in the world not be able to drink it? Hell, the very Internet you are reading on today was created by white men. Should only white men be able to use the Internet?
This is all ridiculous, yet it’s where the logical arguments for cultural appropriation lead us, not to inclusion and the embrace of diverse ideas, but to exclusion and segregation. The entire purpose of a capitalistic democracy — and America in general — is to take the best products or ideas and bring them to the most people possible.
The argument that white college girls can’t sing a rap song without being accused of racism is, frankly, the absolute end of racism allegations. We have moved from counting humans as 3/5ths of human beings in this country and excluding all but white men who owned land as voters, to now arguing that white girls can’t sing a rap song without being racist. We’ve reached the backwards and ironic point where allegations of racism now have more in common with segregationist arguments espoused by racist white people early in the 20th century than they do the modern day civil rights movement in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
Imagine the reaction if you went back to Selma and told those marchers, “You may think you’re making a difference and that it was a big deal to elect a black president in 2018 and 2012, but we’ve got a major problem brewing in 2018 that I’m not sure our country will survive — white girls are singing black music too much. They absolutely love it. How do we make it stop to ensure that racism doesn’t triumph?”
They would have looked at you like you were crazy. They would have considered that to be a great thing. Because what civil rights marchers wanted was integration, the very foundation of inclusion. Where do you even end this logical absurdity? Should black artists release music for black people and then an edited version that only white people are allowed to buy to ensure that white people aren’t racist? Can men sing along to songs by women if the word bitch is being used? Isn’t that sexism by the same logic?
All of this is a large circle jerk of masturbatory absurdity, which makes it perfect for Deadspin, a website which now pays left wing white people to lecture other white people online about what is and what is not racist. (Fortunately it’s probably only going to be paying writers for a short while longer. Univision is desperately trying to sell Deadspin because it is bleeding cash because no one reads its bullshit site any longer. Yet another win for the melting pot!)
The purpose of art, in its most basic sense, is to allow the consumer of art to see, hopefully a bit more clearly, our common humanity through the eyes of the artist. Whether it’s literature, film, TV, music, paintings or sculpture, art ennobles and expands the mind by challenging our preconceived notions and making us see the world around us in a way we have not seen it before.
We’re now in a strange era when the far left wing in this country wants to argue that art is only made or intended for people who look like the artist. That’s not progressive, it’s regressive, the exact same arguments that would have been made to exclude minorities from the larger global marketplace in past centuries.
Newsflash, songs exist to be sung by people who like them. And double newsflash, it’s a good sign that young people in America today don’t just like the music of people who look exactly like them. That’s called progress, a sign that despite the retrogressive far left, the melting pot continues to be the predominant way most Americans experience popular culture today.
We sample everything from people of all walks of life and pick the ones we like the best. Eventually the most successful art changes the world, typically for the better. As many of you reading this column right now would acknowledge. How many of your opinions on life changed after you read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” watched “The Godfather,” or listened to Kanye West’s latest album?
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to head to the beach with my kids. We just bought a brand new beach house yesterday. Why? Because the American market rewards people who speak to large audiences and share the truth. While Deadspin is going bankrupt, your boy is going to be popping a brand new bottle of champagne in his brand new second home. And I’m probably going to culturally appropriate the fuck out of some salsa and margaritas this afternoon and evening.
Ain’t life grand? (Unless you work at Deadspin and are about to be fired by Univision because your site sucks.)