Rules for whites with regards to Hip Hop

I got this from an email forward, which was a result of the Put On Blast emails.  This was somewhat of a response to my host mother and her point of view that says “hip hop came from the prison culture.”  The following is from JLove Calderon entitled “White Like Me: 10 Codes of Ethics for White People in Hip Hop.” 

Keep it uppity, and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

10 Codes of Ethics for White People in Hip Hop
by JLove Calderon

This is written by a white person, intended for white people who are engaged in the culture of Hip-Hop. It is created in the spirit of personal and collective growth and development for white people who choose to live by the cultural standards of Hip-Hop. White people are talked about a lot within Hip-Hop in terms of who buys the most records, who controls the industry, the white kids in the ‘burbs who go crazy over it, even white artists who have made it despite their whiteness. But rarely is there talk of how white people affect Hip-Hop and how Hip-Hop affects us. What are the roles and responsibilities of whites involved in this cultural movement? Have we merely self-imposed ourselves into a culture which doesn’t want or need us?It is time for white folk to stand up and be bold in the dialogue of race and culture, to push the relatively mild interpretations on how and in which way we fit, or don’t fit. Check this 10 point code of ethics for white Hip-Hop heads and see if you can get down with this.

Code of Ethics
1. Be aware of your whiteness.
As simple as it may sound, it seems as if many white folks down with Hip-Hop try to avoid the fact that they are white at all costs. This must stop. Acknowledging your whiteness is an important step in recognizing that regardless of who you are as a person, we come from a lineage steeped in racism and white supremacy. We come from an ancestry of oppression, whose legacy still lives and breathes in the form of institutionalized racism and countless social and economic injustices. This is what we come from, and that we cannot change. What we can change is what we do about it.

2. Be conscious of your unearned privilege.
We carry around a backpack* of free hook-ups that we have done nothing to earn. From it we extract a set of VIP passes, gold credit cards, universal passports, and blank checks – all of which gives us more power, more open doors, an unfair advantage. Your skin color is an asset in this world. The more you understand this concept that better you will be at negotiating that power and, as much as possible, figuring out a way to end its’ unfairness.

* This concept was originated by Peggy Macintosh and is widely used to breakdown white privilege.

3. Be deliberate in your role as an ally
An ally means that you participate as a supporter in a movement. You are aware of the ways in which your privilege undermines indigenous leadership, and in understanding that, you actively advocate for indigenous leadership (even if that doesn’t mean you). An ally is someone who lends resources, and who understands their personal goals in the context of a cultural-historical struggle for self determination. White people are allies within hip-hop culture. Let’s work toward helping to build leadership that reflects the cultures and communities where it was born. That doesn’t mean that we can’t be active and feel invested in the culture, but we must be aware of how racism plays out in the power paradigm of America, and how it is controlling Hip-Hop culture.

4. Be knowledgeable of the history of the culture.
As with any part of our lives, knowledge, wisdom, and understanding are the pillars of self and community enlightenment. It is imperative that you study Hip-Hop culture as you would study your own culture when you want to better understand who you are, where you come from, and where you are going. Precisely because we are coming into a culture that was originated by people of color, it is on us to learn and become knowledgeable of Hip-Hop history.

5. Be open to being educated by others.
When you’re secure about yourself, you’re more open to acknowledging things you don’t know, asking questions, and sharing ideas that warrant a good discussion. Listen to what other people have to say about Hip-Hop and be in the mindset of appreciating new or different information from varying sources. The information you know about Hip-Hop is not stagnant. The lessons are infinite.

6. Be open to educating other white folks.
White people don’t always feel like they have an obligation to talk about issues of race and privilege with other white people. However, the education and exchange is most critical amongst white people who have power to create change in the industry and in everyday life. Help white people in power positions to understand the reasons why Hip-Hop exists in the first place; why it’s so important in your life, how it relates, or doesn’t relate to your life experiences. Be confident in your expression of self and push for the very conversations people try to hide behind.

7. Use your skin privilege to benefit the culture.
In this world, because of your whiteness, you have access to almost anything and you didn’t have to do anything to get this access. So use the juice that you have to lend support to the culture, any which way you can. Whether it be connections, money, negotiating with folks that won’t feel as threatened talking to you because you’re white, or becoming a cultural interpreter – whatever is needed to benefit all communities.

8. Pay homage to the originators of the culture.
Once you learn the history of Hip-Hop it is your responsibility to speak on it, educate others, and consistently give props where props are due. One reason why some white folks may not want to do this is because it further magnifies the point that they had nothing to do with creating Hip-Hop. Not that white people haven’t contributed to Hip-Hop since its’ birth, but its’ inception was purely melanin-related. So when you’re in your ciphers, whatever that looks like to you, talk history, pay respect to the creators of the culture you’re living.

9. Don’t think you are the exception to the rule: YOU ARE NOT THE COOLEST WHITE PERSON IN THE WORLD! By the way, this code relates to me, also).
You are not so different and unique as to warrant a special ‘cool white person’ pass. Are you still trying to be the ONLY white person in the crew? Do you feel animosity when other ‘cool’ white kids come around and deflate your ego? Do yourself a favor: Instead of trying to diss that other white kid, explaining how they are fake or whatever, maybe you should take the time to connect with someone who may be similar in some ways to you. Don‘t push them away or be ashamed. Build with them and see them as part of a community within a community.

10. If you can’t abide by the codes, get out! Nuff said.
It is up to each individual to read and digest this 10 point code of ethics. If you find yourself getting angry, upset, or uncomfortable at what you read, then know that you are in a good space. It’s uncomfortable to look at yourself and deal with the history of racism and realize that you are, in some ways, inseparable from its ugly realities; that your presence symbolizes blood and betrayal for people who are colonized around the world. Stay in the feeling of dis-comfort, for it is in that very feeling that you will find your truth pushing you toward transformation. This is not about feeling guilty. It is about acknowledgement, acceptance, and action. Take your place in Hip-Hop, but do it with consciousness and integrity, for only then can you really call it your own.

For more on JLove Calderon, visit Email her at


4 thoughts on “Rules for whites with regards to Hip Hop

  1. LOL @ Margaret. At HBCU’s and so many other places. I was just going to say that these apply to so much more than hip-hop. My mind is rapidly flipping through all sorts of instances that they would apply to, that these concepts have helped me out, and where I wish i had heard them ahead of time.

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