Local comedian and poet Justin Blackburn recently had his video for the spoken word piece “White People US” banned from YouTube for hate speech. Indeed, the video does contain strong language against white privilege, white supremacy and the institutions that maintain racial inequality and inequity. And the imagery, filmed and edited by local filmmaker AD Weighs, includes shots of lynchings, white power rallies, Nazi flags, slavery and other hard-to-witness moments from our collective history. But the only hate speech is Blackburn’s strong admonition of such systems and the desire to see them change.
“Don’t know how to listen / afraid to lose our position / don’t know what it’s like / ’cause we’re white,” he chants on the video, which has garnered nearly 52,000 hits.
After petitioning YouTube to reinstate the powerful work, the media outlet relented and Blackburn’s words are again available to, hopefully, fuel dialog.
“The wry, bold and turbulent way in which Blackburn delivers his words gets to you deep down,” writes local reviewer Beth Collins, who first introduced the video to Xpress. “This satiric work of art explores, with candor and honesty, the racial undertow that still lingers in the American culture of systemic bias.”