Why I didn’t want to go to WILD this year

Dakotah Jennifer | Staff Writer

I almost didn’t go to WILD. When it was announced that A$AP Ferg was performing, I all but decided I wasn’t going to stay for the main act. My first two WILD experiences were a highlight of my first year— I wanted to have fun, I wanted to be a part of the festivities, I wanted to dance with my friends and see people I hadn’t seen for weeks, but I was afraid.

I have always disliked when white people’s favorite artists are Black rap artists. I don’t dislike rap music myself, though it isn’t my favorite genre, and I have nothing against the affinity for the music. The dislike stems mostly from my own opinions on culture, lyrics and race, and the fear that is couched there. I am afraid of being confronted with the searing, radiating feelings of anger, disappointment, hopelessness, pain and betrayal. And that is all avoidable—I don’t go, or I look down when I know the word is coming. I ignore, I hide, I let my fear drive my plausible deniability. I know it happens though; the resounding echo of the word still rings out, but at least, then, I don’t know who it is.

At WILD, at house parties and at frat parties especially, I’m always scared of looking up during rap songs, constantly worried I will see a non-Black person boldly saying the N-word, and I won’t know what to do. My natural inclination is that I should speak up, say something, anything. But often, I can’t take the stress or confrontation. Arguing about society and politics is something I know well. I can argue about Jim Crow, the Thirteenth Amendment, the NRA, but once it comes to that word, I am lost on what to do. If you know not to say the N-word in everyday life but you don’t omit it in the lyrics of a song, there is a problem. I, for one, don’t want the responsibility of educating every person who would rather enjoy the full recitation of the song than ensure that safety for all people.

I ended up staying for all of WILD. As I laughed, jumped and only slightly moshed to A$AP Ferg’s “Plain Jane”, I tried not to look at anyone but the four friends surrounding me. I enjoyed the moments of pure bliss I had, but then, of course, as it almost always goes, I looked to my left into the crowd and saw a boy reciting every word of the song’s post-chorus. I was hit with the feeling again, a bit obscured by the pure joy I had just been enveloped in, and I tried not to let it stop my fun. I knew, then, that my choice to skip WILD would have been the right one, and that made my body feel heavy and my mind race. It seems like such a simple thing to ask, right? So why did I constantly find myself in this same place? Why couldn’t it matter just a little more to everyone? Why couldn’t they put in the effort?

But that’s just it—it is so easy not to say the N-word in the song. I know, it must be so hard to skip one word in a song, but it must be done—not only because it means so much to the people around you, but because the word itself carries weight you are not equipped to carry. It is so simple. The N-word has a long, oppressive history, and the fact that it is now a part of Black joy does not mean it can continue to create joy for everyone else. It makes so many Black people feel unsafe to see or hear a white or brown person say it—so I ask, is it really worth causing pain, danger and discomfort to say a word you can easily skip? And if your answer isn’t “No,” then we have a much bigger problem.

I don’t know how many times I have to tell you. And I have come to believe that people will do whatever they please when they’re alone, but when they aren’t, those tendencies still slip out. It’s not hard to omit the word, it’s just not easy, and that fact is too much for some people. So to whoever needs to hear this: Say something else! Be aware of your surroundings! And please, just omit the word from the song.

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