Today Clay Travis got right in front of a very difficult issue to interpret. I say this as someone writing on his behalf. Travis is well known for and very comfortable taking on any issue thrown on his plate. As an African-American, I think it would be far too naive for me to take any one side on this issue.
The story in question is about the Women's Virginia Tech Lacrosse Team celebrating on the bus reciting a song by Lil Dicky and Chris Brown called “Freaky Friday.” A song that attempts to play on race by poking fun at what it would be like if Chris Brown (African American) and Li'l Dicky (Caucasian) swapped bodies. The women recited the very N-Word laden part of the song and that video leaked on the web and made headlines.
There's a sizable contingent on each side of this controversy that would make two basic cases. One is that this is not racist as Clay Travis expresses in the audio below.
"The way that we talk about race in this country is fundamentally broken. Some people run from controversial topics. I run TO them. I think often times we don't discuss the reality of life in 2018. We don't get into the nitty-gritty and say, Context matters in stories such as these. In my opinion, this is not racism."
The other side of this issue is that this is highly racist. Let's take deadspin.com's headline below
NY Daily News
The Daily Caller
If we pick the Deadspin headline apart, the line "Chanting The N-Word" may be an extreme way of taking the actual situation. Their Coach calling it a "teachable moment" is totally valid. At the heart of the issue, the girls should refrain from saying the word but honestly, that's ONLY because this video leaked out and headlines make them out to look like terrible people. Would this stop them had this been a private moment never seen by anyone?
A few years ago I worked in live events and went to nearly every Rock the Bells Hip-Hop festival including other festivals under the Guerilla Union umbrella. Nearly all artists on the card sang songs with the N-Word said frequently. These festivals always had a very sizable Caucasian crowd who would recite these songs saying every single word verbatim. Are these people racist? I tricked a friend of mine into saying the word because I caught them off guard. I was singing lyrics to the Kanye West song "Gold Digger."
"Now, I ain't sayin' she a gold digger but she ain't messin' with no broke ______"
I said all the lyrics up to "broke" and guess what? My non-racist, non-African-American friend said "the N-Word." They were instantly mortified and apologized profusely. Guess what, this is what artists do to their fans. They write a vulgar song expecting fans to recite everything. The artists can't turn around and call their fans racist. They wrote it. They ask them to sing along in concert. Now we can argue that the Virginia Tech team has poor taste in music but this music is the norm in our society. The word has been said in Hip-Hop for decades.
Today, Hip-Hop music is at the forefront of pop-culture and highly embraced and accepted by everyone of all colors and creeds. Because of that, we can't throw stones at every white person that recites something that an entire culture and movement are encouraging you to purchase, stream or "recite."
The Virginia Tech team have apologized and expressed massive shame in this video being leaked in the first place but if we're going to throw stones at people who say this offensive word, then maybe the word just needs to stop being said BY EVERYONE. Why is it still in popular music? Will this teachable moment keep other white people from saying the word at the next Lil'Dicky & Chris Brown concert?
Truthfully, stopping it from being said in music is not really a solution. In fact, it's much more complicated than that and that's why we all need to have a discussion instead of just labeling this racism and burning these ladies at the stake.