Thursday, July 7, 2016

Lecrae’s Slavery Tweet On July 4th Should Not Have Shocked You

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Fireworks lit the sky and Lecrae’s Twitter mentions
yesterday.
On Independence Day, the Reach Records co-
owner and artist tweeted a photograph of slaves
on a plantation with the caption, “My family on July
4th 1776.”
This tweet has received over 15,000 retweets,
21,0000 favorites and a multitude of mixed
reviews.
“[Thank you] for the reminder that July 4th meant
freedom for some, but not all,” one Twitter user
replied. “We must keep fighting until all have equal rights & freedom.”
“Done supporting you bro,” another user told
Lecrae. “You make everything a race [issue] lately
instead of a gospel issue. You promote guilt instead
of love”
This is the risk that artists run by speaking out about controversial topics. Some fans will
appreciate their boldness. Others will cease to be
fans.
One of those controversial topics, race, presents
unique challenges for Christians to address. For
example, a critic of Lecrae’s July 4th tweet tried to use his faith to guilt trip him: “There’s freedom in
Christ. I guess that ain’t enough.”
Replies like this even drew the attention of civil
rights activist Shaun King.
My family on July 4th 1776. pic.twitter.com/R9DzWkqDWc
So many white folk who have celebrated @lecrae really do want him to pretend he's not Black. Read the comments.https://twitter.com/lecrae/status/750012773212401665 
Many Christian hip-hop artists have addressed
racial injustice over the years, but Reach Records’
massive platform and the demographics of its
audience also present unique challenges. Years
ago, Reach artists successfully crossed over into the
Contemporary Christian music market, which is dominated by white suburban consumers. Many
white suburbanites are sober-minded enough to
enter conversations about race. Many are not.
However, followers of Reach should not have been
shocked by the boldness of Lecrae’s July 4th tweet,
nor should they be surprised if Reach rappers continue to facilitate race-related conversations.
While the risk of offending white fans could make
artists shy away from mentioning race, Lecrae’s
tweet is just the latest in a long line of evidence that
suggests he and friends will not “just shut up and
rap.”
This past month, the Washington Post said the death of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014 and its
aftermath inspired Lecrae to be more vocal.
A KEY TURNING POINT FOR HIM WAS FERGUSON. IT WAS PERHAPS THE MOST FORCEFULLY
HE’D EVER SPOKEN OUT ABOUT THE SYSTEMATIC
DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF BLACK AMERICANS. THEN
HE SPOKE OUT ABOUT FEELING THAT HE WAS BEING
SHOVED INTO A CORNER BY THE WHITE EVANGELICAL
COMMUNITY THAT HAS NURTURED HIM.
“In order to cry out for my black brothers, I had to
hate the police. It was like: ‘Just stick to the gospel!’
I was like, ‘Wow, this is bigger than I thought,’”
Lecrae said.
Here is a timeline of Reach artists using their
platform to address racial injustice.
Dec. 4, 2014 – Trip Lee releases “Coulda Been Me
Less than two weeks after a white police officer
fatally shot an unarmed, black, 12-year-old Tamir
Rice, Trip Lee released a song titled “Coulda Been
Me”, which expressed how the deaths of Rice, Mike
Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant and
Eric Garner made him feel as a minority. “Don’t nobody wanna hear our pain /
That’s how I’m feeling when I’m flipping through
them Twitter comments, all I feel is rain /
They telling me get over it’s old /
That stuff don’t exist no more /
But that don’t ring true when I look in these streets /
So it’s real when I feel like it coulda been me”
Jan. 9, 2015 – Lecrae performs “Welcome to America” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
In the middle of a national conversation about
police brutality, Lecrae performed an altered
version of his Anomaly song “Welcome to America”
with snippets of the speech which Martin Luther
King, Jr. delivered the day before he was
assassinated in 1968. YouTube
With a chance to perform in front of a national
audience, some Christian viewers criticized Lecrae
for not selecting a song that communicated the
Gospel.
Sept. 18, 2015 – Andy Mineo releases Uncomfortable
One of the ways that Mineo made listeners of his last
album uncomfortable was his tackling of white
privilege.
“My own people owned people, but they don’t own
that /
They say racism dead, man our president is black / Two terms in the White House, that don’t mean
jack /
If we still believe our present ain’t affected by our
past” – Mineo on “Uncomfortable”
“Some push the white cause they ain’t have the
privilege” – Mineo on “Uptown” “When I was young, I thought the world was
alright /
It’s funny, I even thought that Jesus was white” –
Mineo on “Now I Know”
Mineo’s DJ, Dre, even conducted man-on-the-street
interviews about white privilege prior to the release of Uncomfortable.
Oct. 13, 2015 – KB performs “I Believe” at the Dove Awards
KB’s performance of his Tomorrow We Live song “I
Believe” featuring Mattie of For Today stood out at
the 2015 Dove Awards. From the Associated Press
[Kevin Burgess] and a group of dancers faced off against other dancers dressed as
police officers in riot gear. The song, “I
Believe,” ended with both sides joining in
dance and Burgess said as a black man in
America, he wanted the performance to
explore the issue of police violence.
“What does it look like to have the two come
together and talk and become unified, linking
together to actually bring peace?” KB said. “It’s a
hot topic. And I want to see more believers coming
in hand and hand.”
Jan. 15, 2016 – Lecrae releases Church Clothes 3
Lecrae used his first project in 16 months to
address several social ills. The most powerful of
which came on “Gangland”, where Lecrae and
Propaganda gave a history lesson on the influence
of racial injustice on America’s gang violence.
“It was a perfect storm,” Lecrae said after his second verse. “I mean, we’re talkin’ post-
segregation. And what are you gonna do? The
factories have closed and no one’s hiring anybody
from the urban community because of what you
look like. And now there’s a war going on in
Nicaragua and drugs are being imported into your community. Are you gonna to sell drugs or are you
gonna be homeless? Cause the government’s not
paying attention.”
“Gangland” ends with a chilling spoken-word
performance by Propaganda that includes this
haymaker. Delusional calling that system criminal justice /
Where the rich and the guilty are safer than the
poor and the innocent /
Why would we listen? /
When American churches scuff they Toms on our
brother’s dead bodies as they march to stop gay marriage /
We had issues with Planned Parenthood, too /
We just cared about black lives outside the womb
just as much as in
Propaganda concludes “Gangland” with a line that
communicates not only the heart behind the song,
but also what likely is the motivation behind each
event on this timeline: “Being right is a distant
second to the joy of compassion.”
Compassion — which one could argue just so happens to be the missing ingredient in the
disapproving-half of responses to Lecrae’s tweet
yesterday.

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