Across the nation, people are feeling hopeless after Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election, but artists like Vic Mensa are finding a whole new level of motivation in the fight for justice.
Mensa has kept social justice at the forefront of his music throughout his career, especially in his powerful new video for “16 Shots,” and in a new guest essay for Billboard details his feelings towards Trump’s victory.
I was in Atlanta working with The-Dream on some things. I had to remind myself that this wasn't my election to win or lose. Then, when I woke up in the morning, I realized that this had to happen because we've been pacified by having Barack [Obama] in office. That pacification would have only continued by having Hillary elected.
Vic explains that the division in the country comes down to a scapegoat technique used by the corporate elite to keep downtrodden citizens distracted and at each other’s throats, rather than unified against a common enemy.
One of the many problems Mensa addresses is the falsehood of the idea of “race” as a social construct. He details the invention of racial tension as a means of distracting the working poor and states nothing will change for the better until the root cause is addressed, rather than the symptoms.
We can't solve the problems of the poor by blaming other poor people. It's not poor people taking each other's jobs; it's major corporations. It's shipping companies overseas, technology changing and factory positions being done by machines. But, right now, it's just a hoax. I feel like that's gonna bring out the worst in a lot of people in America because hurt people hurt people. I know that. Some people in these small towns with heroin epidemics and lack of employment—they're hurt—and the easiest way to approach that is to blame somebody of a different race; to blame "the others." It's a lot more difficult to identify the real structural issues that have us disenfranchised all across this nation. I think when you start getting at those things, that's when the assassinations happen.
According to Vic, Trump was able to capitalize on a nation of oppressed people by unifying them against a common cause. Unfortunately, that cause is deeply rooted in white nationalism.
Vic mentions that he’s been in talks with activists about creating a movement that expands on Black Lives Matter, bringing all walks of life together against their true oppressors.
At the end of the essay, Vic offers a reminder that the entirety of America’s history is haunted by oppression and injustice, and that to move forward as a nation, we must unify on common issues and engage in conversation rather than further dividing ourselves.
Vic’s point of view is refreshing, and the sentiments behind his essay are becoming more prevalent among the youth, in part thanks to outspoken artists like himself. In the youth, we find hope, and now’s the time when we need it most.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.