*A link to the song can be found here.
One aspect of these lyrics is that they adequately express the ways that class, race and privilege intersect in the lives of people in this country. The recognition that minorities and people of color are more likely to struggle with class issues as well as discrimination and fewer opportunities to advance is vital because this helps express how complex our society and its flaws are. If someone faces discrimination due to their skin color or sexuality… or both, they are more likely to have fewer opportunities, less physical and financial stability, and fewer support systems or safety nets when difficulties arise. Without these positive and stabilizing resources, individuals are held down in the vortex of issues that society and culture have created that limit access to privilege and power to the few individuals who do not find it necessary to deal with the consequences of the race, class, gender or sexuality. These lyrics discuss many of the ways that these issues intersect in people’s lives and ask important questions to ask each of us to think and recognize where we fit into the equation that is America. One example reads: “How can people still be hungry, when there’s a surplus?” If we look at that question, really focus and look at the statistics of people who are food insecure in this country, we may not be surprised to see how high the statistics rise if numbers are separated by race or sexual identity. I have asked myself many times how the richest country in the world has so many poor and downtrodden people and I cannot discover a reasonable explanation… at least not one that is healthy for our country or any of its citizens.
Unfortunately this song is also an example of how a lack of understanding of how race, privilege, culture and gender can actually help hold up the same institutions that you are trying to change. In most media outlets in this country, the United States is portrayed as “Uncle Sam” an older white male or father figure. This portrayal makes perfect sense when we look at the political ideas that our culture spreads in its own lands and abroad: America is the nurturing father figure, the world’ super-cop, the patriarchal leader of the ‘Free’ world. However, the imagery in this song gives all the negative characteristics discussed about America to the basic negative stereotypes of women. By keeping the emphasis on negative stereotypes of women and their traditional gender roles- bad mother, no shame, lack of innocence, bad girl, mirror of reflection, disgraced, etc.… it helps keep the questioning and criticism focused away from the individuals who are in power and could more effectively create great social change… the powerful, rich, white men in positions of great strength. Traditionally and effectively, women of any race have very little direct influence in the large power structures in this control and therefore, it is much easier to criticize the status quo if the criticism is put on the ‘backs’ of those who have no power to change it. Even the name of this great lady (Ms. Amerikkka) suggests the author’s intended focus on built in, institutionalized racism in our culture and also suggests a small dig at feminism… for she is a Ms.… the stereotypical feminist without a male to control her… and the lyrics let us know the negative consequences of that choice.
pictures found at: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/15-love-hate/, https://aceyalone.bandcamp.com/track/ms-amerikkka-bonus-track, http://genius.com/Bell-hooks-beyonce-is-a-terrorist-annotated