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‘Changes’ by Tupac is a thought provoking song about the racism and discrimination people living in lower income neighbourhoods and minorities, especially in the 90s. Being a very popular rapper allowed Tupac to speak for his community and this song is his statement on the problems his community faced.
The song touches on many topics including drug epidemics, the Black Panthers, discrimination and problems with money. One of the writer’s messages is that racism is pointless and we should all come together and instead hate evil things rather than the colour of someone’s skin. The topic that is often repeated throughout the song is the ‘crack epidemic’ of the 80s and 90s. This was considerably worse is mostly Black neighbourhoods but because of many stigmas and blame put on these communities, it was ignored. Tupac says, “First ship ‘em dope and let ‘em deal to brothers, Give ‘em guns, step, back watch ‘em kill each other,” which is a reference to what some people believed to be government intentionally distributing drugs to the Black community. Tupac also mentions Huey P. Newton, who was the leader of the Black Panther Party by saying, “‘It’s time to fight back,’ that’s what Huey said, Two shots in the dark now Huey’s dead,” Tupac’s parents were actually active members of the Black Panthers so he has connections to the leader, who was shot and killed by a drug dealer when he was 47. Huey’s ideas and motives were actually different to Tupac’s though, as Huey wanted a completely seperate community for Black people but Tupac thought, “We can never go nowhere unless we share with each other,”.
An interesting idea I found in the text is how Tupac doesn’t always describe crime in a negative way even though he believed it is a negative thing. He recognises that most people don’t commit crimes because they want to, but because they need to so they can survive. Tupac says, “‘I made a G today,’ but you made it in a sleazy way, Sellin’ crack to the kids, ‘I gotta get paid!’ – well hey, but that’s the way it is,” He’s trying to explain to the drug dealer that he is damaging kid’s lives by selling them drugs and profiting off of it and that he doesn’t agree with what he does. However, he understands that drug dealing earns much more money than many jobs that are available to him, and that he needs that extra money for different reasons to keep going. I really found this interesting and it also somewhat changed how I felt about crimes involving drugs and how they impacted the different people involved. I never really thought that being a drug dealer could be selfish when you’re supplying for people who have a demand for the drugs, but Tupac describes crack as the ‘evil’ that ‘good’ people can suffer from, and supplying that evil around for a profit is selfish.
An idea in the text I could apply to myself is Tupac wanting different people to see each other as siblings rather than as strangers because of their differences. I’ve always grown up in an environment in which my family was open to people who were different and people who were a different race. It would be pretty hard for them not to since my mum is black and my dad is white. I have a large Jamaican family living in America and growing up I would visit often, and they’ve always welcomed my dad, myself and others into the family without hesitation. It was never an amazing or kind thing to me though because I always thought that was what everyone’s family did, but there’s still people who won’t accept others into their communities because they’re different from them, and that’s stupid to me. Even though this song was written in the 90s, not much has progressed since then and that’s clear by the many hate crimes committed all over the world and racist things I’ll hear people at my own school saying.
This song is like a message to those who don’t understand some of the dangerous effects of poverty and growing up in these environments. So many people over the world are in poverty and it’s often in the effected neighbourhoods where there is the most crime. Tupac explained throughout the song the reason some people steal, deal drugs and carry around guns. He says in the last verse, “And as long as I stay black, I gotta stay strapped and I never get to lay back,”. Explaining that as a black man, he carries a gun because he always feels threatened and it’s natural for him. It’s hard to progress out of this culture with so many people not earning enough money to get by, so the idea some people have of needing to do illegal things to be better off is still strong. Of course, most people in poverty don’t do any of these things, but this has turned into the image for these communities, which can be tied back to the crack epidemic in the 80s. Many believed crack was a ‘Black problem’ because at the time, there was a perception that Black Americans was burdening the tax system with dependence on payments from the government. Because of this, the problem wasn’t treated as a problem in these communities and it got worse. However, I think that times have changed and people are more educated about these things, so we can progress from this.
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