February 16, 2016 – “…..And the Toxicity of Being Passive in One’s Own White Privilege”

Paul Cienfuegos’ February 16, 2016 Commentary on KBOO Evening News

(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org/podcast, or subscribe via ITunes.)

Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.

Today, I’m going to do something completely different with my commentary. I’m going to read excerpts from the lyrics of a song released just a few weeks ago titled “White Privilege 2”, written by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. In the words of journalist Taryn Finley, the song lyrics “touch on racial tensions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the toxicity of being passive in one’s own white privilege.” And now, excerpts from “White Privilege 2”:

Pulled into the parking lot, parked it
Zipped up my parka, joined the procession of marchers
In my head like, “Is this awkward? Should I even be here marching?”
Thinking if they can’t, how can I breathe? Thinking that they chant, what do I sing?
I want to take a stance cause we are not free
And then I thought about it, we are not “we”

Am I in the outside looking in, or am I in the inside looking out?
Is it my place to give my two cents? Or should I stand on the side and shut my mouth?
“No justice, no peace,” okay, I’m saying that
They’re chanting out, “Black Lives Matter,” but I don’t say it back
Is it okay for me to say? I don’t know, so I watch and stand
In front of a line of police that look the same as me
Only separated by a badge, a baton, a can of Mace, a mask
A shield, a gun with gloves and hands that gives an alibi
In case somebody dies behind a bullet that flies out of the 9
Takes another child’s life on sight

Blood in the streets, no justice, no peace / No racist beliefs, no rest ’til we’re free
There’s blood in the streets, no justice, no peace / No racist beliefs, no rest ’til we’re free

“Hands up? Don’t shoot!” ………. “Hands up? Don’t shoot!” ………. “Hands up? Don’t shoot!”

Damn, a lot of opinions, a lot of confusion, a lot of resentment
Some of us scared, some of us defensive
And most of us aren’t even paying attention
It seems like we’re more concerned with being called racist
Than we actually are with racism
I’ve heard that silences are action and God knows that I’ve been passive
What if I actually read an article, actually had a dialogue
Actually looked at myself, actually got involved?
If I’m aware of my privilege and do nothing at all, I don’t know

Hip-hop has always been political, yes
It’s the reason why this music connects
So what the F has happened to my voice if I stay silent when black people are dying
Then I’m trying to be politically correct?
I can book a whole tour, sell out the tickets
Rap entrepreneur, built his own business
If I’m only in this for my own self-interest, not the culture that gave me a voice to begin with
Then this isn’t authentic, it is just a gimmick
The DIY underdog, so independent
But the one thing the American dream fails to mention
Is I was many steps ahead to begin with
My skin matches the hero, likeness, the image
America feels safe with my music in their systems
And it’s suited me perfect, the role, I’ve fulfilled it
And if I’m the hero, you know who gets cast as the villain

White supremacy isn’t just a white dude in Idaho
White supremacy protects the privilege I hold
White supremacy is the soil, the foundation, the cement and the flag that flies outside of my home
White supremacy is our country’s lineage, designed for us to be indifferent

My success is the product of the same system that let off Darren Wilson – guilty
We want to dress like, walk like, talk like, dance like, yet we just stand by
We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?
We want to dress like, walk like, talk like, dance like, yet we just stand by
We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?

“Black Lives Matter, to use an analogy, is like if… if there was a subdivision and a house was on fire. The fire department wouldn’t show up and start putting water on all the houses because all houses matter. They would show up and they would turn their water on the house that was burning because that’s the house that needs the help the most. … My generation’s taken on the torch of a very age-old fight for black liberation, but also liberation for everyone.

Injustice anywhere is still injustice everywhere. … The best thing white people can do is talk to each other, having those very difficult, very painful conversations with your parents, with your family members. … I think one of the critical questions for white people in this society is, ‘What are you willing to risk? What are you willing to sacrifice to create a more just society?’”

Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury
Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury
Your silence is a luxury, hip-hop is not a luxury

What I got for me, it is for me / What we made, we made to set us free
What I got for me, it is for me / What we made, we made to set us free
What I got for me, it is for me / What we made, we made to set us free

I’ve been sharing excerpts from the new song by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis titled “White Privilege 2”. You can check out the entire six-minute song performed live on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, from his February 9 show.

You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and on a growing number of other radio stations. I welcome your feedback.

You can subscribe to my weekly podcast via I-Tunes or at CommunityRightsPDX.org. You can sign up for my ‘Community Rights Updates’ at PaulCienfuegos.com. You can follow me on twitter at CienfuegosPaul. THANKS FOR LISTENING! And remember: WE are the people we’ve been WAITING for.

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