The American Music Awards: Macklemore Talks of Race and Trayvon Martin

American Music AwardsThe American Music Awards is a night that is supposed to run smoothly. It is supposed to be celebration not a revolution. But last night’s award was marked by gestures that will undoubtedly cause a stir, pissing off some while appealing to others. But it wasn’t even Miley this time. In an acceptance speech Macklemore acknowledged Trayvon Martin and called awareness to racial profiling in our country.

The award for favorite rap/ hip-hop album was presented to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis via satellite. Macklemore has already proven to be uninterested in following up his mega hit “Thrift Shop,” with more of the same scripted un-challenging R&B hip hop. He recently released a song, “Same Love,” detailing America’s homophobia, and asked the rap community to start being more inclusive. Last night Macklemore continued his habit of voicing his opinion.

“Due to the fact that we are in Florida tonight accepting this award I want to acknowledge Trayvon Martin,” Macklemore said from Miami. He went on to shed light on the “hundreds and hundreds of kids each year that are dying due to racial profiling and the violence that follows it.” Macklemore also quoted Martin Luther King Jr.

“This is really happening. These are our friends, our neighbors, our peers and our fans, and it’s time that we look out for the youth and fight against racism and the laws that protect it,” he added. The appealing thing about Macklemore’s stand is that it could hurt his career.

Macklemore has been enjoying his success because he a cross over sensation. His fan base is made up of people from all demographics. Actually the largest pool of his fans are probably white youths who enjoy his ability to bring the essentials of hip hop into a genre that speaks to them more directly.

But there are enough Zimmerman supporters in America to assume that Macklemore could experience a backlash from his comments. He has not been overwhelmingly popular in the black community so far. So while his comments concerning race and Trayvon Martin at The American Music Awards might earn him some good vibes with the black community, it would be doubtful that they would turn into long term sales.

Thinking about Macklemore’s sales figures is not the point however. He is more than well off right now and his songs have shown no signs of stopping their influence so far. Macklemore & Ryan Lews were nominated a total of six times (including the hip hop album award), more than anyone else.

The point is that is refreshing to see a big star like Macklemore making a political stance on racial profiling, and acknowledging Tayvon Martin,  without a thought to his career trajectory on a big stage like The American music Awards. For all the different things we can say about Miley Cyrus we all know that sex sells. No one thought her move to appear naked in the “Wrecking Ball” music video was going to hurt its chances of being seen by millions of people.

Lady Gaga and R Kelly drummed up some political history at last night’s awards by playing a spin off of the infamous rendition of happy birthday Marilyn Monroe sang for John F. Kennedy. However, it was Macklemore who did the most with his spotlight acknowledging Trayvon Martin and racial profiling on as big of a stage as The American Music Awards.

By Nick Manai



Entertainment Magazine

ABC News

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