September 6, 2017 § Leave a comment
Heard an interview with the hip hop artist Logic on the radio like last year and was intrigued, because much of the interview was about his experience as a biracial person of color who is super white-appearing—intriguing because that is my experience as well (not Black and White but Brown and White in a part of the U.S. where that colorline runs deep). That weird experience of realizing that the folks you feel most at home around automatically assume you’re not one of them.
Anyway, forgot about him. Then, recently, was reminded again when I saw him in an anti-smoking PSA on YouTube—a literally one-second snippet in an ad from TheTruth.com about how tobacco companies have historically targeted people with mental illness, even going so far as to donate cigarettes to psychiatric facilities.
(This doesn’t surprise me, incidentally. The PSA suggests that the disproportionate percentage of cigarette smokers with mental illness, something like 40%, is due to corporate targeting, but in the NAMI Family-to-Family classes I attended a couple years back, I also remember hearing that folks with schizophrenia in particular actually have some biophysically unique relationship to nicotine that such that smoking alleviates symptoms. Quick internet skim suggests that there are various hypotheses about what accounts for this relationship, though, so I’m not really prepared to say what part of the association between smoking and mental illness is biological and which part is social or marketing-driven.)
Back to Logic, though: wow, a white-appearing, nerdy-looking biracial rapper plugging mad pride too? Who is this guy? So then I finally got around to looking him up and found this video:
Y’all seen this? Kinda reminds me of that Macklemore gay marriage video that The Lonely Island spoofs in Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping—which I have seen three times now—which is not to say it’s not moving: it is. More than the message about suicide among LGBT youth, though, it’s the song’s simple act of intervening in the inherently isolating experience of suicidal feelings, making them an issue of tender public concern, that is so powerful. Naming a catchy song after the suicide hotline number so that everyone remembers what to do in a moment of crisis and absolute isolation? Fucking brilliant.
With no visual narrative to compete with this message, the live performance from just a few days ago on the MTV Video Music Awards in some ways is more compelling:
And, if you’re interested, here’s his white-looking biracial POC anthem too. I love that he has to write an anthem to let everyone know just for the record that he’s Black. I get that.