Creativity. Lyrical Masterminds. Raw talent. Two of the many contributors in the world of Hip Hop, Ben Haggerty and Ryan Lewis combine a mix of musical ingenuity with hilarity and the ability to highlight many existing social issues. The rare heart, oozing of love revealed in the works of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is one that we, as followers of Jesus, should aspire mimic.
Ben Haggerty, widely known as Macklemore, writes lyrics that teach me to be sensitive and responsive to others. Like Haggerty, I spend a lot of time angry at those that are hateful and rude and don’t understand life outside of porcelain walls. I believe we have a responsibility to be empathetic of others and to respond to evil not create it; but more and more, my eyes open to the hurt inside us all. Even though, I can never excuse iniquitous behavior. I pray that as followers of Jesus, we continue to learn and make every effort not to let our actions or words imprison people. Instead, we seek the raw and freeing experience of connecting with people. More people need to hear about those type of God connections. They aren’t a matter of scholarly discourse or checking boxes. They are straight to the heart of God and full of the creative image that we are created in and it is powerful. Even though Macklemore expresses disdain for the church, he is like Jesus, and I think Jesus gets him.
In the same way, his music helps me to name my thoughts and my feelings. I’m a middle-class white girl that is pained by the obscurity and injustices in everyday life. The simple injustices. The boys that I have witnessed who are racially profiled and punished for not fitting the white standard of dress. The fact that I work with children that are ignored or feared because of cultural stereotypes. My heart shatters because when I interact and encourage them it is because they are amazing, loving, creative, intelligent, and wise individuals but it can quickly be viewed as my sacrifice as if I am somehow doing something great when, in actuality, I’m not doing anything great because they increase my joy. All of the students that I teach have their own expertise and impress me with their abilities, yet are often deemed by others as “the needy, helpless ones that benefit from me.” However, I can’t accept this. It’s just not the way it works, because, in life we all benefit from each other. Yet, here I stand. White. Privileged. Pained. We are the same, but we feel so different. Because you see, there is no difference between them and me. Gender. Race. Doesn’t matter. Because there is neither black nor white, neither ‘haves’ nor ‘have nots,’ neither male nor female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. We feel different because the world tells us are different. The world tells us that black boys could never understand white girls. It hurts me. Not just for me but for society. Because the culture tells us, we can’t come together. We can’t mix.
Haggerty and Lewis released a song that discloses thoughts on this epidemic. White Privilege II is audacious and authentic. The song is likely offensive to many but exposes attitudes and thoughts that must be addressed. “This song is the outcome of an ongoing dialogue with musicians, activists, and teachers within our community in Seattle and beyond.” (http://www.whiteprivilege2.com). Together, Ben Haggerty and Ryan Lewis are more than musicians. They are social activists. “As artists, we are committed to using our platform, resources, and creativity to have an impact on racial and social justice issues.” (http://macklemore.com/activism/). In their music, they speak out for racial and social equality.
In dialogue with our community partners and advisers, we will continue to find ways in which we can leverage our platform and network towards strengthening the work of organizers and initiatives framed by genuine racial and social equity. We recognize that there are no easy answers, any one piece of legislation, or quick fix to undo institutional racism in our country. We wish to support direct organizing and be led by the expertise and experience of those on the front lines as we proceed.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis empower people through love, truth, and action. The duo partnered with EMP Museum to create a hip-hop artist residency to encourage creativity and artistic ability in teens. In addition, Julie Lewis, Ryan’s mother, pioneered the 30/30 Project in order to provide health care facilities around the world to support those with limited health care, especially women, children, and families of those diagnosed with HIV. “The 30/30 Project’s mission is to bring access to quality, affordable healthcare to those who need it most.”
Ben Haggerty and Ryan Lewis set the standard. A standard that we should all aim to reach. While they live out their talent and their dreams, they carry others along. They carry others for the beauty of unity and the human race. The heart of God is a life for others and with others–always.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2