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9 lyrics from Macklemore's new song about race in America will make you think.

What if we went into these lyrics with a totally open mind?

9 lyrics from Macklemore's new song about race in America will make you think.

A few weeks ago, rapper Macklemore released a song called "White Privilege II." I was ... intrigued.

As a white person who loves hip-hop and also tries to be really in touch with conversations around race, diversity, and privilege, I was excited to see what the reaction to such a bold song would be. And I wasn’t disappointed.

There was a lot of ... reacting. And talking. And thinking. And that’s a good thing!


Some loved the song (a song by a white artist about an important topic that that was accompanied by a website stating that he, his collaborator Ryan Lewis, and their company are committed to supporting black-led organizing and anti-racist education). Others hated it for very very good reasons, most having to do with the fact that a white guy was being heralded for saying "groundbreaking" things even though people of color have been saying the same thing since forever.

Image via Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Needless to say, as with most conversations around race — particularly in such a crazy moment in American history — the song was quite controversial. So why did Macklemore do it?

He told Rolling Stone:

"It's easier, as a white person, to be silent about racial injustice. It's easier. On paper. But it's not easier on the whole, because injustice affects all of us, whether we know it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not. "

Makes sense, right?

But now that the really important debate about the fact that he did the song at all has cooled off, I found myself sad that some of the really important ideas in the lyrics may have gotten lost in the sauce.

Regardless of what you think about Macklemore as an artist, or how wary you were to even listen to the song, here are nine times in the lyrics when T-R-U-T-H got served. Because truth is a good thing.

(You can listen to it as you read if you like!)

1. Awkwardness is totally normal if you're white and protesting alongside Black Lives Matter activists and other black liberation movements.

"Pulled into the parking lot, parked it
Zipped up my parka, joined the procession of marchers
In my head like, 'Is this awkward? Should I even be here marching?'"

Why is this so important to note? Well, Ben (Macklemore's actual name) is a seasoned activist.

But even for him there's still some discomfort, some second-guessing, some "am I doing this right?"-ness about taking his place as an ally and supporting the movements that he believes are important and are led by non-white people. And that's OK. Awkwardness is where life happens. (Says me. Lori.)

Awkward pioneer-hat-Batman-PJs moments? GIFs via Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

The more you talk about it, the more prone others are to say: "Oh, OK. Just because I feel awkward, that doesn't mean I should stop!" There are a lot of different ways to positively affect the cause. Maybe marching is your thing. Maybe it isn't. But in any case, acknowledging that discomfort is normal is a good reminder to us folks who want to show up for the people and movements we care about.

2. It's time for white people to acknowledge cultural appropriation.

"You've exploited and stolen the music, the moment
The magic, the passion, the fashion, you toy with

The culture was never yours to make better."

The term cultural appropriation is everywhere these days. Every time you turn around, someone is being accused of it and people of color are having to explain what exactly it is. But Macklemore — even as he grapples with what it means to be a popular white rapper, gaining success in a genre created by black and brown people — makes the point that ... guess what? It may be complicated, it may make some of us have to own things that we've done wrong, but as white people, we need to acknowledge it.

Jezebel interviewed Jamila Woods, a collaborator on "White Privilege II," about the idea of addressing cultural appropriation. She said, "I thought it was interesting to think of that sort of intersectionality of a white artist in hip-hop, and cultural appropriation, and how white people can be involved in black liberation struggles."

(In case you are confused about the phrase, here's the Cliffs Notes: No one's culture is a costume. So if you're wearing, using, or exploiting a culture as a performance or a "trend" ... reflect! You might be appropriating that culture — and that's not cool.)

Take a bite out of cultural appropriation.

3. You can't really "fix" anything if the whole system is broken.

"It's all stolen, anyway, can't you see that now?
There's no way for you to even that out."

Truth moment: No one has all the answers. Ending racism is really complicated because the entire system that we live in has been based on values and events that make it hard for everyone to be treated equally. So let's just admit that, shall we?

As Macklemore told Rolling Stone, "I can continue to be safe, and to rest in my privilege, and to not speak up, and the system perpetuates itself — or I can try to engage in the conversation, knowing that I don't have all the answers, knowing that I have so much to learn."

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

And personally, chipping away at a system that's broken is exactly what makes me feel like I'm helping. So even if it's clear I don't know how to fully fix the system that's hurting people, it's nice to do my part to disrupt it and stop the hurt any way I can.

4. A lot of us are blind to the experience of our fellow Americans.

Photo via Mat Hayward/Getty Images.

The song also features these real quotes from real people:

"So, they feel that the police are discriminating against the ... the black people? — I have an advantage? Why? Cause I'm white? (laughs) What? (laughs) No. — See, more people nowadays are just pussies. Like, this is the generation to be offended by everything. — 'Black Lives Matter' thing is a reason to take arms up over perceived slights. — I'm not prejudiced, I just ... 99% of the time, across this country, the police are doing their job properly."

For those of us who are aware of the realities of racism in America, those quotes are pretty astonishing. But there's no question about it — a lot of people truly aren't. And these attitudes are a huge problem all over the country. It's even a problem in Macklemore's own fan base.

Think. Then speak. Then think. Then mostly listen. Then when you think you should speak, listen some more.

5. Not taking action is also an action.

"I've heard that silences are action
And God knows that I've been passive."

One of Macklemore's peers called him one night after Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown, wasn't indicted.

Macklemore said the person told him, "You have a platform, but silence is an action, and right now, you're being silent. You're not saying anything about what's going on, and because you're a white rapper you have perspective and an insight onto these issues that you need to be speaking about. It's very important that you engage your audience."

Whew. Talk about some hard truth! Doing nothing is actually doing something. It's important for all the kind, compassionate, genuinely good-hearted people who are sitting on the sidelines not fighting racism because they simply aren't sure what to do to know that fact. You are doing something. The question is, are you doing the something that can make the world better?

Was it Oscar who phoned Ben? We may never know. GIF via "Sesame Street."

6. There are huge advantages to being white in America. It won't kill us to acknowledge that! Really. We should try it.

"I can book a whole tour, sell out the tickets

Rap entrepreneur, built his own business

If I'm only in this for my own self-interest, not the culture that gave me a voice to begin with

Then this isn't authentic, it is just a gimmick

The DIY underdog, so independent

But the one thing the American dream fails to mention

Is I was many steps ahead to begin with."

Once again, Macklemore got really personal here, acknowledging how his own career had benefitted from his race. He's not the first "rap entrepreneur" (hello, Jay Z) — but he's celebrated for it and rewarded for it. This sort of unbalanced praise and support for people with the same level of achievement and ability but different skin colors (tbh, NO ONE can touch Hova, but bear with me) — it doesn't just happen in rap or just in hip-hop or just in music. It happens to people of color every day, in every scenario, and he's leading by example here to show that the first baby step to stopping injustice is to acknowledge it.


White privilege puts some people a few steps ahead. It's a thing that happens.

7. Celebrating black culture doesn't end racism. It's simply not enough.

"We want to dress like, walk like, talk like, dance like, yet we just stand by;
We take all we want from black culture, but will we show up for black lives?"

Our culture loves to celebrate black identity, music, and dance, but it falls silent when things get real. A recent poll found that over half of white Americans saw Black Lives Matter as "a distraction from the real issues." Um ... no.


Don't get it twisted.

8. There's a reason it's Black Lives Matter, not All Lives Matter.

A lot of people still don't really understand what Black Lives Matter is all about. And it's usually those people who insist that "all lives matter."

Macklemore tries to explain with a great metaphor:

"Black Lives Matter, to use an analogy, is like if ... if there was a subdivision and a house was on fire. The fire department wouldn't show up and start putting water on all the houses because all houses matter. They would show up and they would turn their water on the house that was burning because that's the house that needs the help the most."

Photo via Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

9. A more just society requires risk.

"I think one of the critical questions for white people in this society is 'What are you willing to risk? What are you willing to sacrifice to create a more just society?'"

I love this. Because at the end of the day, this song is a challenge. Even in his imperfection as an artist, even with all of the controversy that the song has sparked, the goal is really to ask people this simple question: What would you risk?

Maybe it's risking feeling awkward at a protest. Maybe the risk is something like supporting affirmative action. Maybe the risk is just getting to know someone from a different background than you. If you haven't risked anything, personally or publicly, odds are that you're not doing all you can to actually make equality and justice a reality. So ... maybe it's time to start?

Breaking down walls IRL is much harder.

Look, Macklemore's song isn't going to solve racism. Songs can't do that. People barely can!


Congratulate me! I'm using my platform! — Macklemore ... maybe?

But the song does absolutely have a lot to teach us. And it's as good of a place as any to start learning how to do better and be better.

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

@bluffbakes on Tiktok

Chloe Sexton—baker, business owner, mother—knows all too well about "daddy privilege," that is, when men receive exorbitant amounts of praise for doing normal parental duties. You know, the ones that moms do without so much as a thank you.

In a lighthearted (while nonetheless biting) TikTok video, Chloe shares a "fun little story about 'daddy privilege'" that has now gone viral—no doubt due in part because working moms can relate to this on a deep, personal and infuriating level.

Chloe's TED Talks-worthy rant begins with:

"My husband has a job. I have a business, my husband has a job. Could not make that any clearer, right? Well, my bakery requires that we buy certain wholesale ingredients at this place called Restaurant Depot every week. You've seen me do videos of it before where I'm, like, wearing him or was massively pregnant buying 400 pounds of flour and 100 pounds of butter, and that's a weekly thing. The list goes on and on, like — it's a lot."
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Cayce LaCorte explains why virginity doesn't exist.

The concept of virginity is a very loaded issue in American culture. If a woman loses hers when she's too young she can be slut-shamed. If a man remains a virgin for too long, he can be bullied for not being manly enough.

There is also a whole slew of religious mind games associated with virginity that can give people some serious psychological problems associated with sex.

Losing one's virginity has also been blown up way beyond proportion. It's often believed that it's a magical experience—it's usually not. Or that after having sex for the first time people can really start to enjoy living life—not the case.

What if we just dropped all of the stigmas surrounding virginity and instead, replaced them with healthy attitudes toward sex and relationships?

Writer Cayce LaCorte is going viral on TikTok for the simple way she's taught her five daughters to think about virginity. They don't have to. LaCorte shared her parenting ideas on TikTok in response to mom-influencer Nevada Shareef's question: "Name something about the way you raised your kids that people think is weird but you think is healthy."

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