Some Truth in a Rap




Yesterday was Human Rights Day. Universal Declaration of Human Rights was announced on 10th December 1948. When it comes to human right, people are prone to think that it belongs to Africa and South Asia, connecting it to an image of the poor. Of course, this should be kept in mind: 83.2% of people in low income-countries (taken up mostly by African and South Asian countries) are living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. Far away from the ideal that all men are created to be equal, the UN and the government should take measures to alleviate such a difference.



Problems of human rights, however, pervade rich countries as well, transformed into discrimination against immigrants. France is one of the countries where an indelible rift emerges between the native and non-native. The latest rate of immigrants’ employment published by OECD ranks France 31th out of 34 EU countries (2015). Only 57% of them find their jobs. Additionally, over 30% are categorized to be poor, while 13% of the native French. There is a huge economic disparity among ethnic groups in France. Ethnic minority’s indignation comes out in various occasions. For example, music.



Music, especially a rap, is in vogue among ethnic minority in France. Rap mainly had spread over suburbs (unlike UK or US, suburbs in France are mainly a place for poor people to live in) and been sung by a lot of immigrants who lived there, since it was propagated from United States in 1990s. Therefore, a rap is more or less associated with ethnic minority in suburbs with low-income and poor education. Generally, a curse, vulgarity, slander against the society are included in lyric of a rap, so some politicians call for regulation of rap, and a few musicians were arrested for promulgating radical ideology.



However, is rap entirely bad thing? This answer must be no. It plays a part in ameliorating structure of the society, because rap is constituted by some truth. Messages that a rap conveys are chiefly divided into three parts: (i) against capitalism and elimination (ii) against racial discrimination and police (iii) distrust and building people’s mindset, as Chikako Mori shows in her book “Suburbs of Elimination and Resistance” (2016). Rappers decry the hierarchy that society favours only the rich, not the poor. They resent discriminatory treatment by white people or police, and get isolated to make sure their identities in their songs.



A rap they made is based on their own experience, not always good events, with almost no exception. Its lyric is a fact. Therefore, people need to interpret the underlying messages rappers sent at least. Otherwise, the future when human rights are all secured would never come true. About 200 years ago, Declaration of Human Rights (Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen) was made in France. Comparing that time, the situation has improved, but not sufficiently. Rap can tell what lacks.



“Intouchables”, a famous film in France, presented us with clues of integration. It depicts life of Philip, a disabled billionaire, and Dolis, a black immigrant from poor family in a suburb, caring for him. As story goes, they build good relationships because Philip does not suspect that Dolis is a bad guy. Yes, not only Dolis, but also all immigrants will not be bad guys. They are just struggling to defy the odds and express themselves under discrimination. If some of them look like a rogue, they might just don’t know how to get on in the world. Such understanding will form good relationships. I do not know if human rights problem can ever be completely uprooted, but I am absolutely sure that the continued efforts to build good relationships with ethnic minority, can overcome a great deal of it.




参考文献:森千香子, 2016 「排除と抵抗の郊外」東京大学出版