Kendrick Lamar’s New Trans Acceptance Song Auntie Diaries Explained – Up News Info News in France and abroad

After a five-year hiatus, rapper and Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar is back with Mr. Morale and Big Steps, his latest album under the Top Dawg Entertainment label. The album features 18 tracks, split in two into an A-side and a B-side. Fans are excited about this project, but it has its shortcomings. While tracks like ‘Count Me Out’ and ‘Mother I Sober’ deftly discuss topics like spirituality and family trauma, the 14-time Grammy winner’s highly anticipated return is clouded with unease through slights. homophobic and transphobic on track 15, “Aunt’s Diary.

The song purports to peer into the pages of Lamar’s diary, examining his relationship with his transgender uncle and cousin over the years. “Auntie Diaries” seeks to reconcile two somewhat opposing concepts: the journey he has taken to understand his loved ones, and the devotion he still feels for the religion and teachings he grew up learning. It’s a tension felt deeply by many in black communities, but Lamar isn’t quite able to bring the tension back to a place of proper release. Such a weighty topic poses a risk of neglect, due to the use of microaggressions that are often considered harmless to those who are not the recipients: cisgender people.

Since the album’s release, he’s immediately sparked a discourse around “Auntie Diaries,” wondering if the art and its intended message outweighs the harm done. There seem to be two important sides, either ready to absolve Lamar or condemn him. But it’s not so black and white. It’s as gray as the world we live in.

Some fans are venerate the song as pro-LGBTQ+ (specifically trans) anthem in hip hop, a revolutionary development for a gender that has long helped fuel the flames of anti-gay hatred. While it’s understandable that listeners might come to this conclusion, that’s not quite the case. While Lamar may have been well-meaning in wanting to tell a story about learning about his ignorant past, his words didn’t transcend that past. “Auntie Diaries” falls into harmful tropes, including dead names, gender errors, and the use of a homophobic slur.

For those of us who live at the intersection of being black and queer, good intentions are not enough, especially when accompanied by active damage. In black communities that revere religious teachings, homosexuality and issues of gender identity are often hot topics – seen as inherent sins and not subject to further debate. There is little room in these communities for the queer Black experience, but queer Black people are also expected to be able to understand and forgive religious homophobia. And to some extent, we – I – can. I can understand why people cling to a belief system. But then, the same grace and understanding must be given to black gay people who believe there was a better way to deliver the intended message of “Auntie Diaries.”

At the start of “Auntie Diaries,” Lamar repeats, “The heart plays in ways the mind cannot understand,” followed by spiritual teacher and New York Times #1 bestselling author Eckhart Tolle, who recounts : “This is how we conceptualize the human being. beings”. This intro gives a warning that the track will tell the story of how Lamar grew up and learned to conceptualize queer people in his family while in a religious environment that condemned them.

In verse one, the Compton native recalls misunderstanding his uncle’s homosexuality as a child. Then he moves to the present and explains his ideologies and affirms his uncle’s gender, while describing everything he admired and loved about him. Returning to his childhood mindset, Lamar taps into his childhood memories to show his love for his uncle as someone who is always in his heart.

Kendrick Lamar performs at the Day N Vegas hip-hop music festival in Las Vegas in November 2021.
Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The verse articulates the “nature versus nurture” that plays out in children who inherently love their family members but learn to resent those who don’t conform to the binary. Lamar shares his teenage confusion fueled by the hate he witnessed his uncle’s experience from their family: “I asked my mom why my uncles didn’t like her that much. And at parties, why they always want to fight him so much.

For many black queer people with nieces and nephews, this is the flip side of an experience that rings true. For the past 15 years I’ve been unctie (my recent favorite title as a non-binary person). My niece and nephew, whom I love unconditionally, witnessed the vitriol of religious members of my family who considered me nothing but an abomination. They asked themselves the same questions as young Kendrick. I have my one-on-one relationships with them, and they know me as a loving, caring, and respectful person. Yet these two conflicting views create an internal battle of binary ideologies – not around gender, but about what is right and what is wrong. That’s a lot for a child to unpack, and it’s a context that’s important to understand when considering the intent of “Auntie Diaries.”

Throughout the song, the homophobic slur appears, first in verse two. Lamar uses it to admit his teenage ignorance of the word’s evil and how it was commonly understood to be synonymous with a joke. On verse two, Lamar raps:

Back when it was comic relief to say “F*****”
F*****, f*****, f*****, we don’t know any better
Elementary school children without filter.

There is truth in these bars. To this day, homophobia and transphobia are justified by comedians. Take, for example, the highly publicized 2021 review of comedian Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special. The closest, which included transphobic jokes. The defense for many is that as long as it’s meant to be a joke, it doesn’t constitute prejudice. This ideology is particularly present in black religious communities like the one in which Lamar grew up. It is an ideology that he tries to honestly criticize by asserting his complacency. But his delivery is clunky at best.

Lamar is as familiar as anyone with how words can hurt, especially bigoted words spewed out by a stranger.

In 2018, Lamar brought a white fan on stage to rap his 2012 track “mAAd City” with him. The fan rapped the lyrics verbatim, using the n-word repeatedly. This led to Lamar cutting off the fan, saying, “You have to beep one word.” This event would serve as an example of the harm bigoted words do to a community when spewed out by a stranger who has no right to retrieve them. At the end of “Auntie Diaries”, her cousin Mary-Ann says:

Kendrick, there is no room for contradiction
To really understand love, change your position
“F*****, f*****, f*****”, we can say it together
But only if you let a white girl say “N****”

But although well-meaning, Lamar still contradicts himself by choosing to say the F-slur on the song in the name of the art instead of beeping it. “You have to beep one word” doesn’t fit here for him. It ultimately trumps what is well-meaning crude thinking and makes it fall flat.

Another harmful misstep is the song’s consistent mis-genre, which casts a veil over its attempts to unlearn its ignorance towards queer and trans people. In the song, Lamar raps, “My aunt is a man now. I think I’m old enough to understand now. Drinking Paul Masson with his hat turned inside out. While acknowledging that his uncle is male, Lamar still calls him “aunt” and “her”, invalidating their gender identity. He does this again in verse three, but this time also giving a dead name to his cousin Mary-Ann. Lamar raps:

Demetrius is Mary-Ann now
He is more confident to live out his plan now.

In verse four, Lamar raps about Mary-Ann, who was more religious and submissive than he was to the spiritual teachings they grew up with. When their preacher singles out Mary-Ann, Lamar begins to question those teachings. He stopped abusing her, recognizing that she was exactly what she had always been: the cousin he had loved since childhood.

The juxtaposition of religion and homosexuality is a reality. It is often assumed that queer people are not spiritual or cannot hold certain religious beliefs because many organized religions consider us sinners. The same thing happened to me when I came out at 17. The church I grew up in all my life has turned its back on me. The gossip got so bad that I pretended to be sick to miss the service and negotiated internally that everything would be fine if I didn’t act on my alleged sin. But this repression gnawed at me from the inside out until I realized that if God really made no mistakes, then I was precisely who I was meant to be.

Seeing such hatred made even my own Southern Baptist mother question her beliefs. We stopped going to church. Something similar happens for Lamar when his cousin Mary-Ann is singled out by their congregation, as he raps, “The day I chose humanity over religion, family came together. , all was forgiven.”

Lamar’s realization — that leading from the heart and loving others is the way — speaks to his attempt to become more open-minded. He returns to the intro of “Auntie Diaries”, about the battle between heart and mind. It shows that while still ignorant, he is ready to start seeing things differently from what he knows. This burst of understanding is why I believe the intent behind the song was genuine and not disingenuous. But because of that, it can also be a place for him to take criticism and listen to queer and trans people so he can become a true ally.

The subject of “Auntie Diaries” should have been treated with more care. A true ally requires nuance, and with more actionable methods, their intentions would be clearer. Maybe a feature film from a queer rapper who could talk directly about the experience of receiving such hate from his family would have helped the case here. Many queer rappers could have filled this gap, including Santana, Lil Nas X, Isaiah Rashad, and others who have the experience to discuss these issues. At times like this, it’s important to amplify and listen to criticism from queer and trans people who want to be respected as the human beings that we are. For many straight cisgender people, doing the bare minimum is seen as complete acceptance, despite gender errors, dead names, and use of the F-slur as Lamar ignorantly did.

Many of us understand that breaking the binary has been taught is a process. But don’t we deserve that same grace and that same understanding, to be heard, loved and shown to humanity? I believe so, and that starts with hearing from us about our first-hand experiences. When we denounce the harm done to our community, give us the grace to listen.

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Kendrick Lamar’s New Trans Acceptance Song Auntie Diaries Explained – Up News Info News in France and abroad