LAFAYETTE, LA — A song produced by a Lafayette-based hip hop artist has ignited a debate on Facebook about race relations. Although the man behind the message is pleased the song is gaining attention, he says the comments online are reflective of the song’s hook.
“The song says that we’ve made a lot of progress, but we still have a long way to go,” Maurice explains. “The song says where we started, says this is where we are today, and still in 2012, we still have a long way to go.
Maurice wrote and released a video for “A Long Way To Go” back in August. However, it recently gained a great deal of attention after the popular Lafayette-based website Busted In Acadiana wrote about the song and posted it to Facebook. Hundreds of followers responded with mixed reviews.
“People are calling me a racist,” Maurice noted. “For you to look at my video and say that it’s racist, you’re part of the problem and are in denial. But a lot of people from black to white have commented and said that they agree with my message.”
Maurice noted that because B.I.A. referenced his day job as a Lafayette city Police Officer, people have attempted to relate his lyrics to specific incidents that have made local headlines.
“People are trying to pin point a situation here in Lafayette and associate the song with that, but it’s bigger than that,” he said. “This is not a Lafayette thing. This is not an Acadiana thing. It’s not speaking about a particular city. It’s talking about a national issue.”
As a military veteran, Maurice has lived in various cities across the nation, and also served active duty during the Gulf War. However, Maurice did say that his lyrics do touch home.
“I wrote the song based on things I’ve experienced in my life. Things my friends and family have experienced in their life,” he said. “These are things we complain about and talk about to each other, but no one has really come out and said it. So I put it on paper and in song form and turned it into a video.”
Much of those experiences are related to what he calls “subconscious racism.”
“Racism in our nation is like that family member on crack,” he said. “Yes, he’s on crack, but you do not bring up his name at Christmas dinner. If you bring it up, maw-maw or paw-paw are going to get mad at you. Maw-maw and paw-paw are America and the family member on crack is racism.”
Maurice believes that our denial of the continued problem of racism is allowing its perpetuation. He believes that the issue is culturally embedded and manifests in ways that are not necessarily blatant or specific to any individual.
“About two weeks ago in Carencro my sister was at the post office and a lady standing in front of her asked for stamps. The woman said they were changing the pricing on the stamps, and all they had were black heritage stamps. The woman refused to buy them and left with out mailing her stuff off. That shows you we still have a long way to go.”
Maurice continued to explain that his lyrics are not focused on one particular race. Rather, he hopes people understand that perceptions are flawed from all sides.
“My video speaks truth and I understand that sometimes truth hurts. My video speaks the truth about both races,” he said. “I have always taught my kids to understand that you cannot judge a group of people based on the actions of a few. I show them a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. and point out that there were white people who were marching alongside him. They fought for our cause, for equality for all men and women. Somebody can call you [a name] on Monday, but you can’t hate all non-white people on Tuesday. There are good and bad people of all colors, shapes and sizes.
“We need to all look at ourselves in the mirror to find the things we need to fix about ourselves,” he added. “We all need to improve. Things need to be improved.”