Subtle racism
It's hard to pin it cause you'd only understand
If you were me for just a minute

from Childish Gambino – Hold You Down Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

Subtle racism refers to covert racism. Gambino doesn’t mean that he alone feels this. He means that racism is embedded in American world-views in the way we inherently stereotype meaning to. It’s hard to pin it because its covert, unlike the overt forms of racism we formally recognize as racist (Rodney King, KKK, Police attack Civil Rights Activists).

People can’t see all the racism and its implication that play out in the discourse around Gambino. Their conditioning has been conditioned. It’s like everyone doesn’t realize they smell like shit after not showering for months until an outsider comes along and tells them. Gambino is that outsider.

Ironically (and perhaps intentionally), this statement in and of itself is an example of “subtle racism,” by telling the listener he/she can only understand his situation by virtue of being black and not having just lived a life identical to Gambino’s

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