By Quinlyn Manfull
When I woke up last Wednesday morning and saw that CNN notification “Eminem may be an imperfect role model…” I nearly lost my mind.
Not only is Eminem not a perfect role model, he is quite possibly the worst role model — especially in the era of Trump.
Eminem’s freestyle diss of Donald Trump at the BET awards this past week was circulated by basically everyone I knew within just a couple hours. Hundreds of articles and tweets came out in support of Eminem saying that this is exactly what the US needed. People are so glad that we can find an imperfect role model in him.
My issue with Eminem has nothing to do with his opinion on Donald Trump, but on his long history of rapping about assaulting women, utilizing anti-woman and anti-people of color (POC) language in his music, building a fanbase of anti-woman, anti-poc men.
Eminem’s anger is anti-woman, anti-black and anti-LGBTQ+ anger. It is anger that brags about killing women, it’s anger that gloats about assault against women, his anger allowed him to appropriate a culture of speaking out against police brutality to promoting violence against women.
His appropriative anger is not towards systems of oppression, but towards the oppressed. It is the anger felt by those who elected Donald Trump — it is Trump’s anger.
People of Color, and more specifically women of color (WOC) have produced thousands of songs about police brutality, systems of oppression, empowerment to those that the State does not care to empower, and so much more.
If you want anger and empowerment, watch Princess Nokia throw soup in some racist old man’s face, listen to M.I.A., Missy Elliott, Public Enemy, Cupcakke, Kendrick, Nicki, Lauryn Hill or Beyonce. The list goes on quite a ways.
If you want to be all “pro-anger” in the Trump era, you have to be pro-riot, you have to be pro-violence, you have to be anti-compromise that throws women’s rights under the bus (cough, cough Bernie), you have to be pro-torching of systems of entitlement that constantly profit off the labor of black bodies and never give them rights that are owed to them.
I remember seeing the response of many supporting Eminem saying that his plight of poverty has left him having to overcome a lot of pain — I completely understand the awful effect of poverty and mental illness, and the feelings of hopelessness these can cause. I also completely understand that poverty does not mean that pain must be taken out against women in your life, and it does not excuse any action made by Eminem.
Poverty did not make him write a song detailing how he would kill his wife and let his daughter watch – inspiring the murder of multiple women by the hands of their husbands. Poverty did not make Eminem sing about lighting women on fire, about beating women.
Ultimately, Eminem has benefitted off of many systems of oppression in this world as a white man. His rap career was more easily palatable by white folk who were angry — but he made that anger be towards women and the exact groups that Trump supporters feel angry towards.
Eminem’s response after the BET Awards has proven again that women of color can do something for ages, but a white man does it in a mediocre way one time and gets a million times more credit.