When it comes to the topic of race relations, outspoken Christian rapper Lecrae is striking a note that resonates with some of his fans but might leave others covering their ears.
In an op-ed published by Billboard on Friday, the Grammy award-winning artist once again spoke out against racism, insisting that harmony and understanding require humility following the police shooting deaths of Louisiana resident Alton Sterling and Philando Castile of Minnesota, and the subsequent killing of five Dallas police officers — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens and Michael Smith — at the hand of a black sniper who said he was targeting white officers.
The music producer referred to an excerpt from a TEDx Talk in which he explained that everyone has a story and a crucial step toward trying to relate to one another is understanding those stories. Doing so, however, takes some humility.
"I think that it takes humility to hear another person's vantage point, especially when you believe the one that you have is correct," Lecrae said.
The Texas native asserted that everyone is tainted by bias. "We're all biased; there's no one in this room who's not conditioned, socially and environmentally, to have biases. Biases exist within everyone so listening and understanding takes a level of humility. It just does, and that's really what it comes down to."
Lecrae explained that when certain issues only affect minorities, the majority of the population might not feel those issues really exist.
"This is a conversation I have with lots of my white friends all the time," he said. "When I share my experiences with them, they're like, 'Oh. Really?'"
The music artist said it takes humility and cultivating "real relationships — not just through work and school projects" — to begin to see things from another perspective.
For those who take issue with whether or not institutional racism exists, the rap artist spoke his mind. "Some people may have to say, 'I don't understand systems and infrastructures making differences in people's lives,'" he said. "I just see that my decisions affect my reality. I'm not racist. I'm not mad at anybody. I want to hear your story. So explain how you see racism as an institutional problem?'"
To this, the hip-hop artist responded using an analogy: the same way that a billionaire of the '60s has wealth that affects his descendants today, so will the lack of finances and resources of a slave affect their descendants today.
Lecrae added, "So when you start looking at it [like that] and stepping back, you may say, 'Ah, okay. It's more of a systemic issue that's happening.' If you start to see some of these infrastructural [issues,] that will start to make a difference."
"But to be fair," he said, "that process takes humility on both sides. It also takes a great deal of humility for someone to quell his or her emotions, frustrations, and anger with another who constantly can't see the emotional turmoil they're going through."
"If you subscribe to any moral code that says you should care for humanity, obviously black people will fit into that category. So why would you not advocate for justice and truth unless you have something to lose?"