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How rapper XXXTentacion is failing to stand up to racial hatred


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The fresh-faced teen rapper, XXXTentacion, or as he's formally known, Jasheh Dwayne Onfroy, has shaken the music world with his recent debut album, '17' in August of this year.

Although, this piece isn't to talk about his new album. The 19-year-old has associated himself with a certain notoriety, having been charged with gun possession, robbery and most recently alleged battery of a pregnant woman.

And now, advancing his controversial aura, XXXTentacion has attracted further criticism, this time as the rapper appears to lynch a small white child in the video for his single, 'Look At Me!'.

This is, of course, a very sensitive subject. White mistreatment of black people has been rife for well over 400 years, with its roots in slave trade dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries. The rapper has simply put an alternative twist on a scenario that could well have been. However, this is not to say propagation of the alternative is in any way right.

'Look At Me Now!' is a bold visual and lyrical statement. In it, Onfroy attempts to provoke a reaction concerning certain methods of murdering African-Americans in 19th and 20th centuries, namely lynching.

Onfroy is pictured with two small children; one white, one black, in front of a theatre audience. The rapper proceeds to tie a noose around the white child's neck and shortly afterward, you are able to see the dangling feet of the child suspended in the air.

Onfroy is obviously triggering something that far surpasses morbidity and pointless visual murder. Throughout the song, the rapper talks of inequality, division, and even racial schadenfreude.

The name of 'Emmet Till' finds his place amongst frustrated lyrics; a standout lapse of humanity in time.

For anyone not familiar with the story, Emmet Till was a 14-year-old boy who had supposedly verbally and physically offended Carolyn Bryant, a white lady, in a grocery store. Following the 'incident', Bryant's husband and his half-brother went to Till's relatives house and beat and mutilated him, before shooting him in the head and dumping him in a river. Both men were acquitted, with Bryant later admitting she had fabricated the story of Till offending her. The only thing that can make this story worse, is the fact that it happened only 62 years ago, in what was supposedly modern America.

People of African-Amercian origin have been brutally abused by white people in the United States for an unjust amount of time. Even to this day, black Americans are seamlessly persecuted by a collection of groups, including the KKK. Frequently, the very people that are employed to protect the public appear more often than not to victimize those of a different colour, with black males aged 15-34 nine times more likely than any other Americans to be killed by law enforcement officers in 2016. 

All of this paints a pretty grim picture for the mistreatment of the black minorities throughout history. An outside observer, therefore, might not be blamed for thinking that XXXTentacion and many others are justified in their speaking and acting out in such ways against hundreds of years of white oppression. But in truth, that observer would be wrong.

In short, the means of any action against any individual or group far outweigh what entails the end. The end, therefore, never justifies the means; rather, the means justifies the end. 

How can, in the event of a group or individual being suppressed justify their actions of rebellion if they adopt the same methods of their oppressor? Surely, XXXTentacion visually portraying what would often be commonplace in the 20th century against his own ancestors, immediately surrenders any moral justification of his action in speaking out against racially driven murder and mistreatment of African-Americans.

This intrepid, yet certainly naive, move from the teen places the respect and legacy of his own ancestors in as much despair and dehumanisation as the hateful action itself.

No one can expect to find eventual peace and ultimate end-goal justice in such a statement. Thus, from a moral perspective, what XXXTentacion has done is simply disrespectful in the face of hundreds of years of bravery and self-respect in the face of ceaseless brutality.

Of course, this is not to say that any hate-crime, racially motivated attacks and murder and overall hatred to other races be transparently accepted. But there must be a point in which someone, or something, becomes the role-model, especially considering the resurfacing of ever-present but logically inept modern-day racial divides under President Trump's United States.

However, I do in writing this completely understand how easy this seems to play out on paper, but in reality is a much more socially, economically and historically complex subject.

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