No Black & White in Music

Bored, my friend and I scoured through our social media. After about fifteen minutes of showing each other this video and that picture she came upon a post that said “name the first five songs on your iPod/playlist/phone/iTunes,etc alphabetically using A as 1, B as 2, and so on…”

Mines went like this:

  1. A-Team by Ed Sheeran
  2. Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
  3. California King Bed by Rihanna
  4. Dance Floor Anthem (I Don’t Wanna be in Love) by Good Charlotte
  5. Emergency by Paramore

She proceeded to scrunch up her face and ask, “who the heck is Good Charlotte and Paramore?”

I glanced at her list and saw that hers were all recognizable, mainstream, R&B artists. Not to say that my artists aren’t all mainstream- but the fact that she only had one genre throughout the list, even when we went further down the alphabet surprised me.

“Do you only listen to one genre?” I asked, this time scrunching up my own face.

She shrugged and said yeah, continuing to laugh at the songs on iPod that she had taken from my hand. She struggled to pronounce “Kimi ga Kureta Mono” by Ai Kayano and asked how I could “like not only White people music but Japanese people music too”.

That brief moment stuck with me because it brought me back to several times in middle school that I had long forgotten about or had suppressed to the back of my memory bank. I used to hide my taste in music because kids would laugh at my choices and say that I was trying to be white or that I was listening to so-called white people’s music.

It surprised me that my friend would bring up this stigma again- that she was in the same mind-frame as a sixth grader. But it’s not just her. It’s a lot of the world, especially (unfortunately) in the Black community. We repeatedly shun artists like Iggy Azalea and Mac Miller for “stealing” our culture and having the nerve to rap.

And it may very well be true that people like Kim Kardashian have gotten plastic surgery to make their lips and butts bigger, therefore wanting to look more like a Black woman, but in my opinion that is something that is totally different and should not be associated with music.

My question is: is there a such thing as white and black when it comes to music?

Yes, Black people may have invented the Hip Hop genre and the culture surrounding it but does that mean we should be so stingy and not share it? So what if a white person wants to rap and enjoys the music for what it is? Are you saying that I, as an African American woman, should not be allowed to sing in a country accent when I am not making fun of it?

Separating music genres is rooted in racism- a ruthless, unnecessary evil that still grips our world in an iron grip. Don’t we get enough of that without letting is spread to something that is designed to make us happy?

So excuse me if I want to have Eminem, Beyonce, Carrie Underwood and Kirk Franklin on the same playlist because I can and I will.

Having a wide variety of musical tastes shouldn’t be shunned but embraced.


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