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THE REVIVAL IN THE ART OF PROTEST

Eminem continues to give us a clear sense of what his forthcoming album REVIVAL is focused on: his mindset as a fully-formed, 45-year-old grown man. Slim Shady may have been the defiant, rule-breaking, lighting-rap incarnation of his youth, but Marshall Mathers the adult demonstrates a deep awareness of his singular status in the American conversation about race. (He is, after all, the only white person symbolically drafted into the game by black people in the iconic “Racial Draft” episode of The Dave Chappelle Show.)

But even more importantly, in every move he’s made leading up to this album’s release—from his blistering Trump cypher to this newest cut, “Untouchable”—which takes on White Privilege directly—Eminem is asserting himself as an outspoken activist, one willing to do battle, and torch down every compliant minion in his opposition to the festering cancer of racism in our country.

Using his platform to shove this conversation into the minds of fans and pop culture followers alike is both remarkable and necessary—an answer to a call put forth, 54 years ago, by one of our greatest civil rights leaders about the silent white majority.

The most urgent need in the conversation about racism in this country is that it not just fall to black people to point out the injustices, the participation from an informed, actionable segment of white people to address the obvious is mandatory, in order for things to truly change. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed this very point about participation in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, writing in April of 1963:

The Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can't agree with your methods of direct action.”

Modern American society has given us numerous instances of a stark, unfair reality experienced by the other half of our citizens—police brutality caught on video, a glaring income and educational disparity that is destined to expand even further under pending corporate tax policies and, most depressingly, a long-documented history of racism, oppression, and despotism coming directly from that toad in our White House. For racism to be expunged, white people must be in the conversation and actionable to it.

That Eminem is standing up with a fist at this moment will no doubt be seen, through the lens of history, to be as significant as what Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye and Joan Baez did before him. When an artist has the public’s attention and uses that force for good, it’s never anything but completely thrilling and game-changing.

I, for one, cannot WAIT to hear what else he has to say on REVIVAL.

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