Why Kendrick Lamar is Wrong about Ferguson

11 Jan

KENDRICKOh Kendrick, I love you much. But you let us down.

When discussing the situation in Ferguson in his recent Billboard interview, the Compton rapper said,

“I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s f—ed up. What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.”

Ugh… Kendrick, Why?

Black people, PLEASE—we really need to let go of this “respect ourselves before they respect us” argument. It’s loaded with respectability politics and reeks of internalized racism.

Need I remind everyone that we are human beings, and therefore should be treated with a certain level of respect. You know—the same amount of respect a white man would receive if he was standing outside trying to break up a fight. Or the same amount of respect a white, skittle-loving, hoodie-wearing teenager would receive if he were walking through his neighborhood.

Yes, I know we are not white and therefore, are not afforded certain privileges. But we don’t have to co-opt the white supremacist thinking that niggers are niggers until they act a certain way. Because even if you are the most “respectable” person in the world, if your skin is not white, you’re still going to be followed by sales clerks in certain stores, you’re still going to face a certain amount of racism from ignorant people you meet in the world, and you still may have run-ins with the police that you would not have had if your skin was white.

Respectable or not, some people still discriminate based on color. And that’s what we need to be fighting against. Kendrick needs to point his finger at institutionalized racism, police brutality, and discriminative legislation, not at the people who are on the receiving end of this broken, racist system.

Also, who ever said that Black people don’t respect themselves? Please, inform me—cuz I really would like to know:

Aren’t the millions of Black parents who work hard so that their children can have even more fulfilling lives respecting themselves?

Aren’t the rising number of Black women getting degrees respecting themselves?

Aren’t the hundreds of thousands of Black people marching, demonstrating, dying-in, and demanding change in a failing justice system respecting themselves?

Anyone who believes that Black people do not respect themselves needs to turn off those housewife shows, leave their couches, and join the nearest #BlackLivesMatter protest in their area.

Some people look at certain situations and mainstream media, and then turn to tell Black people to respect themselves. Meanwhile, no one is looking at Honey Boo Boo, and then running to tell white people that they need to respect themselves.

Respectability politics does not work to our benefit y’all. We need to stop embracing it.


I want to hear your opinions. Drop some knowledge in the comments section below.

5 Responses to “Why Kendrick Lamar is Wrong about Ferguson”

  1. Amelie January 14, 2015 at 12:28 PM #

    Kendrick is right, not misguided… When he says “black people need to respect themselves” he isn’t just pointing fingers at the respectable black people with jobs and degrees who are already doing great things for the black community. He isn’t only talking to the n***as in the ghettos slinging crack, banging, and pulling guns on cops (because that’s real life, inb4 ferguson like Kendrick said)

    He is talking to everyone to change their approaches and lower their guns.

    The world is your mirror, and there’s more power in respecting, loving, and helping yourself first and coming together as a renewed community than “demanding respect” in rallies which while effective in letting your problem be heard, only scream “I’m inferior!”

    Fighting only creates a stronger opposing force, and you’re hurting yourself more than anything by doing so.

    Why are teenagers so rebellious? Because they feel OPPRESSED by their parents and elders and want to PROCLAIM their independence. And why do they always get stomped down and never taken seriously? Because they DEMAND to be treated like adults by acting out in all sorts of ways. Then after a couple years of fighting tooth and nail for that independence to no avail, they finally mature enough to decide to start BEHAVING like adults instead of fighting for it. They no longer FEEL like children, so from within, they begin to act respectable. Their attitude changes from “Give me my adulthood” to “I am an adult and I don’t need your approval anymore”. They create a new perception for themselves in the eyes of their parents, and instantly they begin to get treated like adults.

    Don’t demand for your oppressors to fix your problems for you. A victim will only be a victim as long as he choses to be treated like one. And I believe that’s what kendrick was trying to say


    • awomynsworth January 15, 2015 at 7:50 PM #

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      I see your point of view, my only 2 problems with your arguments are that 1: when you talked about teenagers, you were pretty much describing how a lot of teenagers act… but only the black teenagers get told that they need to respect themselves? Sounds like a double standard.

      2. Black people ARE fixing their own problems–which is why I brought up the protests. They ARE respecting themselves. My only thing is, white supremacy is in place because of white supremacists–who are not black (In most cases, I’m assuming). So we do need to demand that members of our society work with us to end the types of oppression that exist in our world.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. soulljahhh January 12, 2015 at 4:31 PM #

    Great read! I enjoyed every bit of this my sista! I feel the exact same way! Every race has issues in their community but only blacks have the nerve to go on the media and point it out every 5 seconds ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. soulljahhh January 12, 2015 at 4:28 PM #

    Reblogged this on Virtue of Mahogany and commented:
    I feel the same way about this issue. How many times do our own people go on mediums and attack us by saying its our fault all the time? Why not attack both sides and if you are even going to think about attacking black people in the media show your reciepts of what you have been doing for the black community. Have you been on the streets talking to the youth? Are spending time with your community. Idk these rappers & entertainers are turning into pawns and im sick of it. Rather them not say a damn thing. But great read!


    • awomynsworth January 12, 2015 at 6:40 PM #

      Hey, Glad you liked the article!. I was really disappointed to read his remarks. It’s sad when rappers become pawns and I hope Kendrick doesn’t turn out to be that way. It would be super disappointing, especially considering he has actual talent. Maybe he’ll see his mistakes. In the meantime, we have to keep calling people on their BS and keep conversations like this going.


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