On Listening to 'New Slaves' With White People

Writing at Noisey, Ernest Baker explains why, although he thinks Kanye West's new single is "27 times better if you're black," he hopes that white listeners will attempt to understand its message.

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Kanye West (Gabriel Bouys/Getty Images)

Writing at Noisey, Ernest Baker explains why, although he thinks Kanye West's new single is "27 times better if you're black," he hopes that white listeners will attempt to understand its message.

... It's not that white people can't enjoy "New Slaves," or that they're all so dense as to not be able to grasp the more serious implications of this record. There is, however, a danger that lies in how this record will be received -- there's a consciousness that's lost when there's not an organic relation to the content, and its effects are much more devastating if you don't possess an acute sense of education and sensitivity to these issues.

It's an understandable notion. Given my people's history of oppression in this country, I have a unique empathy towards the horrors of the Holocaust, but I still don't have the same personal perspective as that of my Jewish friends. It's like when someone you know gets cheated on, or loses a family member. You know it's a painful experience, but unless you've been through the same, it's difficult to fully fathom, no matter how much you see them hurting.

I hate being the race card guy, but I'm not scared to be, either. As "New Slaves" makes the rounds, I just want the general population to exhibit the awareness of the song's objective that comes to me and other blacks so naturally. I know about "broke nigga racism" because I've been in the Louis Vuitton store in Monaco where [motherf--kers] told me not to touch anything if I wasn't going to buy it. I know that they're "trying to lock niggas up" because when I got my driver's license in high school, my mother was just as concerned about my ability to not get my ass beat should I get pulled over by cops as she was about me putting on my seatbelt.

So, if you're white, I'm not asking you to organize a reading of the "New Slaves" lyrics with the NAACP, I'm just asking that you make an effort to be mindful of the events, historical and current, that inspire the song's content. It's more than fun rap time to a lot of us. After Saturday night's SNL performance, another black writer texted me: "Kanye really did paint the elephant in the room red, black, and green." Don't act like you can't see the colors.

Read Ernest Baker's entire piece at Noisey.

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