While Apple is still riding high from the introduction of its new operating system at its Worldwide Developers Conference this week, its $3 billion acquisition of Beats by Dre is still causing shockwaves across the music and technology industries. So how do we make sense of it from a racial justice perspective? Kelsey McKinney caught up with former Colorlines editor Jeff Chang, author of “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation” to get some perspecitive.
What we have now is marketing in which black cool reigns. So, if Lebron, and Dre, and Jay and Bey and everybody else say, “this is cool,” then that’s what white kids want as well, what Chicano kids want, what Native American kids want. That’s what all the kids want, and that’s what’s important today.
On the one hand, there’s obviously opportunities there for there to be cultural exchange. We can’t ignore that there’s something happening there that could be potentially positive. If you and I have no other way of connecting with each other than for the fact that we both have Beats by Dre headphones, and we both happen to be listening to Kendrick Lamar, then maybe there’s a connection that we’re having that could be potentially transformative of us both.
On the other hand, we also can’t ignore that just because you purchase something, doesn’t mean that a cultural exchange is happening. Just because I buy these headphones because all of these black artists are saying I should, doesn’t make me any more knowledgeable about black struggle or anti-blackness.