How communist rapper Noname fights American capitalist culture

VSImmunism is a touchy subject for most Americans.

There are good reasons for it: Communists and Socialists, their less radical counterparts, have historically been persecuted by the government following wars highlighting the country’s dependence on capitalist structures.

It’s rare for Americans to openly embrace the radical concept today, but one rapper remains fearless as she advocates for the destruction of the oppressive structures that have marginalized communities of color for centuries.

“Capitalism is the reason black people die. capitalism is democratic and republican ”, Noname tweeted March 5.

Fatimah Warner, a Chicago-born poet and activist known as Noname, caught the music industry‘s attention with her first mixtape Telephone in 2016. She had appeared on the mixtape Acid Rap by Chance the Rapper — with whom she befriended as part of an artist collective in their hometown — three years ago, but her solo project solidified her as an emerging talent .

Noname knew she had a choice of two avenues when she hit it hard: becoming a celebrity and enjoying the riches, or actively resisting what American capitalist culture told her to do.

She chose the latter.

“You only hate communism because of CIA propaganda,” one meme reads tweeted March 7.

Known for her socially conscious lyricism and soft voice paired with jazzy basslines, Noname elegantly tackles racist and capitalist structures from line to line. No lost words.

His latest single, “Rainforest, targeting billionaires and environmental exploitation, is just one example:

It’s fuckin ‘money, I’ma say it with every song /

Until the revolution comes and all the feds start running /

Fuck a Good Will Hunting, it’s a whole new murder /

Revolutionary suicide, then close the curtain

A line pays homage to Karl Marx, the father of communism, referring to the philosopher’s definition of “commodity” in his book Capital city: “They turned a natural resource into a bundle of money.”

Noname is rarely afraid to say what she thinks. The 29-year-old artist quit performing live in 2019, fed up with misguided reviews and the mostly white audience attending her show – for whom she says her music was not written. After his next album Baby Factory, she teased that she could stop the music altogether. In a now deleted tweet, she said other black rappers are having the same problem, but the money draw is too strong.

“The funny thing is that most black performers are just as uncomfortable performing in front of predominantly white crowds, but would never say that publicly out of fear and allegiance to ‘money,’ he said. she wrote. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since artists have to make money, she says, but “you wouldn’t be ready to arm yourself if I stopped working at McDonalds.”

Her stage name itself is a representation of what she stands for: the ability to think freely for oneself, using education and community to promote social awareness. It is about the collective, not the individual.

When she was interviewed on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Noname described the comforts of being a freelance artist and how she refrains from wearing clothing with brand logos on it. “not having a name and being nothing at all is a comforting basis for building freedom,” she wrote in a Tweeter May 6.

Another Tweeter a week earlier, read like a poem, explaining the name as “no ideology / I read everything / take what applies / leave the rest”.

But just releasing songs and educating yourself is not enough. She puts her ideas to work, refocusing her energy on grassroots activism. In this way, she can help others follow the path of education she has embarked on.

In July 2019, the poet founded Noname Book Club, inspired by a fan on Twitter who told her he was reading the same book as her and wanted to become a pen pal. Noname’s mother also had a bookstore in Chicago that served as a community center, which was her other impetus to get the initiative off the ground.

The book club’s slogan is simple and straightforward: “Reading material for friends”.

With a group of like-minded activists, Noname chooses books twice a month on the social justice movements she is passionate about: abolishing prisons, abolishing the police, funding the military, all written. by writers of color. Guests picking books, a program called “Let the Homie Pick,” included Kehlani and Earl Sweatshirt.

Books on revolution, socialism and political radicalization are frequent choices. Want to read? The book club recommends Are prisons obsolete? by Angela Davis, The autobiography of Malcolm X, and How Europe underdeveloped Africa by Walter Rodney. Noname often praised the work of communist icons like Marx and Ho Chi Minh, promote their books as well as.

The Noname Book Club is “a little screwed up for Amazon, and kind of fucked up for the FBI,” the poet said, referring to how the government has tried to shut down black-owned bookstores in the past.

Although thousands of members read with the online book club, members can meet in person, free of charge, to “discuss monthly choices in a safe and supportive environment.” There are currently 12 local book club chapters, with plans for continued growth.

With around 189,000 Twitter subscribers and 142,000 Instagram followers, the Noname Book Club is “a little screwed up for Amazon, and sort of fucked up for the FBI,” the poet said, referring to how the government tried to shut down bookstores owned by Black. in the old days.

In 2020, Noname launched the group’s most ambitious form of direct activism to date: the Prison Program. Through this initiative, the book club is sending books to incarcerated people across the country to help them learn about social issues.

“The prison industrial complex is working incredibly hard to wipe out members of our community and we believe we need to work even harder [to] counter this effort, ”says the book club’s website.

A recipient sent a typed letter to the book club in early June expressing gratitude for the book he received.

“I was in the hole. These people want to silence me, ”said Stevie, a member of the SCI Smithfield Prison Chapter in Huntington, Pa. He was put in jail for “expressing his solidarity … with prisoners on hunger strike in New York.”

Books, he writes, have been indispensable to the people of the chapter. The prison “works to separate people and make some people disposable,” he said, but “the connections we make contradict all of this nonsense.”

On Twitter, where Noname frequently interacts with nearly 600,000 subscribers, she shares other reading materials – often on colonialism and capitalism – and offers her own take on the topics to help her audience understand the topics. Although she admitted that social media is exhausting, the direct line of communication breaks down barriers for fans and celebrities.

“It is important to understand colonialism in all its forms – colonist, neo and brut – as a tactic of imperialist expansion and exploitation under capitalism, and to understand racism and white supremacy as the ideological justification for this expansion. and this exploitation, ”she said. wrote in a tweet from May 19.

She shamelessly shoots President Joe Biden – for whom she said she did not vote in the last election – calling him “a white supremacist in the highest position in a colonial nation of white supremacist settlers.” All the politicians through political decisions, and celebrities across pay higher taxes, fuel oppressive systems, she argues, including herself.

Echoing his core values ​​of anti-capitalism, Noname pleads for people to “want to go beyond celebrities and the Democratic Party,” she wrote. “both have this country in chains.” She is not a fan prominent Democratic Socialists, neither Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Noname’s self-education over the past few months has focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it rages on. Taking a decidedly pro-Palestinian stance, the poet called on her supporters to “understand that you are helping the United States finance it with your taxes.” we are giving Israel billions so that they can continue to murder. and murder. and murder.

Noname performs onstage at the Pavilion during Panorama Music Festival 2017 – Day 2 at Randall’s Island on July 29, 2017, in New York City.

Nicolas Hunt / Getty

His calls for revolution in the midst of turmoil are reminiscent of Gil Scott-Heron, the soul and jazz poet who helped educate a generation of 1970s activists about politics. Also from Chicago, Scott-Heron’s 14-track spoken word album Pieces of a man honed on mass consumerism and white middle class ignorance.

His popular song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” recalls the themes of many of Noname’s lyrics:

The revolution will not be back /

After a message about a white tornado /

White lightning, or white /

You won’t have to worry about a dove in your room

Few celebrities in American culture have resisted the societal norm to challenge capitalism in recent years with the boldness of Noname. In the 20th century, expressing communist views in America could get you killed, let alone telling the government to “fuck off.”

“I believe in revolutionary study and organization,” she said tweeted May 18. “Being in an organization that can hold you accountable, sharpen your analysis and teach you how to move the liberation struggle forward in a material way is necessary imo. world capitalism is getting organized. people must be.

Despite historic violence and the suppression of black revolutionaries, Noname has shown that she is not afraid to work on the ground to make an America she wants to live in, with education at the forefront of her mission.

She may have been on something with lyrics, albeit out of context, in “Song 32”:

“Yes, I am America at its best.”

About Brandy Perry

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