As my photo above depicts, I am indeed a white blogger. It's not something I ever imagined having to write in all my years covering hip-hop, an art created predominantly by black males. Maybe it's that the term, "white blogger," seems to suggest something akin to white supremacy... or maybe I just didn't want to be part of the stories I write. But today, I was invited on NPR's "News & Notes," a show about African American perspectives, because I am a white blogger. (You can listen to the segment, "Obama-Era Race Relations In Black and White" here.)
Perhaps I was a little out of my league, answering questions from the show's venerable host Tony Cox and answering them in juxtaposition to Dan Agin, a Neuroscientist and author of numerous essays about the differences of race right here on the Huffington Post. Together, they have at least 50 more years of experience speaking on the subject (and on the radio) than I have at the start of my career.
But sitting in that chair, in NPR's Culver City studios, I was immediately taken aback, and even overwhelmed, that I was there as a representative of white America. When Tony asked about my defensive body language, I wasn't defending white perspectives, I was on guard about my mere inclusion as a representative of that. In the professional setting, I've always referred to myself as "the rap dude." Not very professional, I know, but it's definitely indicative of my self-perception as a member of the media.
I'm not Stephen Colbert; I do in fact see race... just not always the implications of my own. Race, and more broadly, poverty (an affliction that disproportionately effects black America) has always been a point of passion in my writing. When covering hip-hop culture, it'd be damn-near irresponsible to not touch on the sickening injustices and deplorable conditions in places like Houston's Third Worldish Third Ward. Race is very much a part of that, and no, President Obama hasn't fixed it in his first week of office.
When I had to tell the Houston cab company that I was a white journalist just so they'd send a car to one of America's most dangerous ghettos, my race was relevant. Some of the errant eyes I catch in the company of Wu-Tang's entourage certainly has something to do with race. Differences and prejudices exist, but I get much worse from rockist music critics when I identify with the hip-hop community and say that Young Jeezy is my rapper of right now.
And to paraphrase Jeezy for my own accord, my president is black... and my girlfriend's too. It's not a cop-out to prove my enlightened views on race, it's just a fact. The hip-hop generation that helped push Obama over the top might be more comfortable with his position of unrivaled power then those before us, but as Dan Agin repeatedly pointed out, America is a fragmented society too pluralistic for definitive comments on this country's ideas in this "post-racial" world... and that only time will tell.
But I'd argue that the differing views on race may be more generational then we discussed on "News & Notes." Surely there will always be deranged members of society hellbent on white supremacy, but the people in my age bracket--from liberal Los Angeles to the rural Connecticut trailer parks of my youth -- are happy to see this moment in history come. That Obama's inauguration wasn't a shift in white perception of black America, but the welcome inevitability that someone who listens to Jay-Z is now the face of this country. Of course, Dan is an Emeritus Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, while I'm just a rap dude.