'Auntie Diaries': Who TF Was This Really For?
May 18, 2022 at 1:24 am
When Kendrick Lamar released his new album on May 13, listeners were left awestruck by the controversial and problematic album that intensified people’s unconscious biases.
We were all ready to hear what was sure to be a thought-provoking lyrical masterpiece. But at first glance, listeners wondered why a Kodak Black feature was allowed on the album despite him pleading guilty to first-degree assault and battery after being charged for sexually assaulting a high school girl. Yet, the feature was just the surface of the album’s problematic ways.
Still, some of the album’s intricacies didn’t stop us from becoming engulfed with the full project and its riveting takes on abuse, trauma, atonement and accountability.
Many of us found a comfortable spot to hang back, roll up, kick off our shoes, and tell the slack channel we’d be OOO, just so that we could partake in the masterpiece in peace. And so we did.
We nodded and bobbed. We jerked and thought. We pondered and laughed. Related and even felt attacked, but then we got to track six of what felt like a digital double disc.
“My auntie is a man now,” Kendrick raps in “Auntie Diaries.”
And just like that our interest piqued — “Where is he going with this?” “Is his aunt really trans?” “If she is, wouldn’t he be his uncle?“
We ask questions to help guide us through the first round of the mental gymnastics that we play with ourselves while we grasp the legitimacy of that very first line — “My Auntie is a man now.”
What are we even supposed to do with this info? How do we grasp what he’s saying and who is he talking to? The song needs more than one session and so most of us take the time to dissect it, again.
This time, we sat up straight and we listened with the intent of hearing the words clearly. Praying for clarity the second time around, but instead, we hear what we missed the first time.
“Demetrius is Maryann now,” the rapper says over the track.
And the discomfort sets in. Folks in the transgender and gender-nonconforming community start to settle in their seats. Family members with a history of intolerance buckle up and sit with shallow breaths as Kendrick lets off the F-word like an automatic rifle.
To many, this feels like an unwarranted attack. To the vast majority, it’s confusing, to say the least, and the rest of us are here — stuck in between being upset and entertained, contemplating what our thought pieces would be under the pictures we would post as Twitter lost itself in a battle of “To be Woke, Or Godly.”
Some of us asked ourselves, “Why?” Others thanked him for saying what needed to be said.
This brings me to my initial reflection — who the f**k was this for? What were we supposed to gain from this, or was there never really a purpose at all? Was this a hot ticket item, or a way to communicate the hypocrisy of Black folks on issues of transness in a way that only a black man who’s proven himself the ultimate heterosexual could do?
As you contemplate the motive of this piece that made us all think, I have to ask you to be honest with yourself. Would you have listened to the same lyrics by Lil Nas X, Saucy Santana or Cakes The Killa?
Don’t feel bad if you’re not part of the LGBTQIA+ community and your answer was “no.” The truth is, most folks in the community wouldn’t have either. So what makes it different when Kendrick says it? Why is the topic of queerness only able to be discussed when the folks who embody its most threatening aggressor say so? And is that the same reason that it had to have been him? Kendrick comes from a space of being respected by the folks who disrespect and dehumanize the trans experience daily.
Kendrick is a barbershop conversation and role model wrapped into a consistent ball of moving thoughts and phrases that when combined, spell out H.I.P. H.O.P. And for a lot of Black folks, it helps to shape, define and aid in a specific brand of male toxicity, patriarchy, misogyny and bigotry.
“Some say the piece is callous because of the ignorance of men to understand the nuance of gender beyond the possession of their own dicks, but I say “black men ain't stupid.”
However, I do have to say that while the delivery may have been crass to some, it did lend itself to some healthy dialogue that even divided the community in question.
A lot of folks saw it as a necessary evil due to the audience in question which seems to be Black Cis people or Black cis men, specifically. Can you get through to folks without speaking in a language they understand? Or do you have to meet them where they are to take them to where they need to be?
Lamar’s use of the F-word and constant misgendering of his now uncle seem to be intentional. With that said we can’t ignore the blatant disregard for the folks this song has triggered and sideswiped. The fact of the matter still remains that in a song where we detail reasons why white folks can’t say the N-word because of the harm we know it causes, we shouldn’t allow bigotted slurs to slide in the name of artistic value. I could pull the reverse Uno card and ask how we’d feel if this was a white person, but somehow we all know there would be no room for the exploration of Black pain through the lens of white folks who say the N-word seeking to cause change by proxy.
Instead, the track seems to speak to the internal work he had to do and the hard truths he had to face to complete the album as a whole, but did it hurt more than it helped?
Some say the piece is callous because of the ignorance of men to understand the nuance of gender beyond the possession of their own d**ks, but I say “Black men ain’t stupid.” Some of them just don’t like to admit that gender isn’t the problem, it’s the speculated privilege that trans folks get for performing outside of the gender that they were assigned at birth that grinds their gears.
It’s the speculation that whiteness is inherently attracted to queerness and therefore anything under its distinction gets a fast pass to an easy life that bothers some Black men, because deep down the ones with the most objections to transness seek the autonomy it gives rise to. They forget that Black trans folks are still Black, or they simply remind us that they don’t care because they were taught that they didn’t have to, bringing me to my final position on this unfiltered diary of a mad Black ally.
While it’s triggering and can be seen as yet another stain on the term allyship. It also sparked some much-needed dialogue and forced us all to acknowledge the elephant in our rooms, dinner tables, families, and friend groups.
We can debate that it gave Dave Chapelle vibes or that it empowered people to use derogatory terms, but we’d be derelict not to validate the folks this song set free and gave safe space to indulge in the arduous but necessary dialogues it sparked over the weekend.
We see Black male rappers push the envelope on internal issues for the sake of starting a pivotal conversation within the community all the time. We’ve listened to them called women, b***hes, and ho’s. We have listened while they overtly divest from Black queer folks in the name of “shaking the table.”
Some of us have even agreed while people berate a 13-year-old trans child whilst sitting on planet fitness of all places. They’ve said everything under the sun to cause a conversation in their own community for the sake of “art” except dig deep down and call white folks a term that we know all too well would really get a conversation going and as badly as we need to have that talk, I wonder why that is?