"I’m Not Racist" by Joyner Lucas

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"I’m Not Racist" by Joyner Lucas

Catalog Entry

My artifact is  the music video for “I’m Not Racist." “I'm Not Racist” was released on November 28th, 2017, and this song touches on the topic of racism and Black Lives Matter. I chose this as one of my artifacts because it was written by a now very famous artist who is originally from Worcester Massachusetts, about ten minutes from me.
Joyner Lucas is an artist who focuses on addressing topics that nobody else is comfortable discussing, and the issues that he addresses such as the Black Lives Matter movement grabs the attention of many people. He discusses closeted racism and how the progression of the overuse and emphasis of the word "n*****" in the song represents how people are becoming too comfortable with their use of that word. He first mentions that “there is no resolution, it is just f*** you, f*** me, aight,” saying that is what is wrong with the world and rather than trying to find that resolution we simply accept the negativity and hatred towards one another.
His music video for “I’m Not Racist” received twelve million views in its first week of release, and today it currently has 145 million views due to its real and raw talk regarding systematic racism and stereotypes as well as the use of offensive language.
The music video displays a white man and a black man lip syncing in a heated argument about race and stereotypes, but both the white man and the black man’s side of the argument is voiced by Joyner Lucas. Personally, I am not sure if that was the intention of Joyner Lucas, but I think that alone displays a huge message in itself. We need to stop picking sides and stop allowing this divide between races. When you consider the lyrics of this song “Quit the pitiful stuff and then maybe the police would stop killin' you f***s,” you can see how much Joyner really addresses the issues and problems with racism and also the topic of police brutality. Many stereotypes are brought up in this, such as the one regarding a Black father’s presence in his child’s upbringing when Joyner states, “I see a black man aimin' his gun, But I'd rather see a black man claimin' his son." When the conversation shifts over the Black man's perspective one of the first lyrics is"
“The power in the word "N****" is a different sin/ We shouldn't say it but we do, and that just what it is/ But that don't mean that you can/ Say it just cause you got nigga friends." This is around the time when Joyner Lucas gets into the discussion about the word “N****” and how abused and effective this word really can be. When you look at the white man perspective of the song and you observe the lyrics “Call everybody "N****" and get a n**** mad, As soon as I say "N****" then everyone react.” In his lyrics and meaning video he explains how people say their favorite rappers are saying the N word left and right so what makes it wrong for them to use the word themselves? Why is it not acceptable? The lyrics dive deep into the stereotypes of Black people and how they are over-associated with gangs and violence as well as drugs and how that image is beginning to be associated with being something cool and hip, when in reality it is very dangerous.
When you listen to the lyrics he also mentions Tupac, whom Joyner Lucas describes as somebody he as well as many other people really looked up to because he openly made mistakes and how he was conscious and learned from his mistakes, and I think he put this reference in the song to educate our youth not only about the issues of racism but also the fact that we need to have more of this kind of attitude, admit to our wrongs and learn from our mistakes. The concluding lyric for the white man perspective when he says, “there's two sides to every story, I wish I knew yours,” also ties into this idea of being open minded. Joyner says the meaning behind this was to show that “hey, I am not gonna say all of this racist and messed up stuff and leave it at that, I wanna know what you think about me and hear your thoughts” (Lucas), which is where it shifts into the Black man's perspective.
I think this is so representative of the Black Lives Matter movement because although nobody wants to admit there are probably people advocating for the BLM movement who are closeted racists and the fact that the white man says all of those racist things during the heated discussion and then just says I wish I knew your side of the story is so contradicting, but it makes not only the video but the lyrics so much more powerful. This thought raises so many questions for me: why do we think it is okay to say some of things we say knowing it is wrong, and then try to make them okay like it does not leave a permanent mark on the person we are offending? What caused our nation to be so divided and why is none of the efforts we are making to fix it working? And I think the answer to this is simply because we are part of the problem trying to fix the problem at the same time.


Lucas, Joyner. "I'm Not Racist" Official Lyrics & Meaning | Verified.” GeniusDec.15, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqhjpQxfq4Q.

Catalog Entry Author(s)

Ayva Borelli, Student, Fitchburg State University

ALFA Mentor

Gail Hoar


“"I’m Not Racist" by Joyner Lucas,” Cultural Heritage through Image, accessed December 2, 2022, https://culturalheritagethroughimage.omeka.net/items/show/183.

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