May 2015: Key & Peele aired one of their most brilliant sketches on Comedy Central, titled “Negrotown.” The sketch imagines a fictional town that Keagan Key’s character describes as “a utopia for black people!” Most of the sketch is delivered through musical number and everybody’s wearing the kind of clothes that wouldn’t look out of place in Solange’s Losing You video. Jordan Peele, who play’s Key’s tour guide to Negrotown, says that here, there are “no stupid-ass white folks touching your hair / or stealing your culture, claiming it’s theirs.”
July 2015: MTV launched a satirical campaign called “White Squad,” a fake organization that aimed to address racial inequality by offering white advantage services to people of color. Like, hey, get yourself a white person so you don’t have to deal with the injustice you face on a regular basis. Whether you’re trying to hail a cab or get a scholarship loan, White Squad is there.
August 2015: Hamilton, the hit hip-hop musical and brainchild of Lin-Manuel Miranda on the American president featured on the $10 bill, hit Broadway. Over the last quarter of the previous year, Hamilton made numerous fans out of people who only had the soundtrack to go by, linking the story of immigrant and scholar Alexander Hamilton to the hip-hop narrative of writing one’s way out of squalor. The musical was also known for making strides in representation, casting people of color to play white historical figures. All this happening while Donald Trump is running for president.
December 2015: Noisey published the article “2015: The Year White Rappers Lost,” written by Slava Pastuk. Recommended reading. The concluding paragraph is perfect: “Hip-hop is a culture that was invented and perfected by black and brown youth in America. It is arguably the greatest export to ever come out of the USA, and there’s a lot of money to be made in it. It’s not hard to understand why people would want to get a cut of the pie, but those people need to remember who made the ingredients list in the first place.”
Jan. 6, 2016: Rapper and political activist Killer Mike, best known as one-half of hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, was interviewed by talk show host Stephen Colbert. When asked if awareness and reportage of black killings have generated new dialogue in America about race-related issues, Killer Mike replied: “The same problems that we’re discussing today, we discussed in 1990, 1980, 1970, and 1960.”
Jan. 22, 2016: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released the single White Privilege II wherein Macklemore acknowledges that the same culture that allows racial prejudice to thrive is what allows him to be successful as a white rapper. NPR offers a take on how the song has actually stirred discourse: “Perhaps White Privilege II is meant for young people who are just starting to try on these ideas about relative dis/advantage for size, the kids who are coming to their political awakening in a post-Ferguson world. It’s not clear that a nine-minute treatise that works better as a thinkpiece than it does as a song is the best delivery mechanism for that, but it’s certainly not counterproductive.”
What might be more unclear, however, is how exactly all the lessons we can learn from White Privilege II can apply in a Philippine context. I suppose one way to start would be to stop casually throwing “nigga” around while wearing your Supreme hoodie, or playing up the angry black woman role with your friends for laughs, or calling yourself black, or wishing you were black. Don’t be that person.