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Throughout the past 400 years white supremacy has taken over America. There have been many songs, movements, and advertisements that have attempted to make a change. One example would be Tupac Shakur’s song “Changes”. Tupac Shakur was an African American rapper that was assassinated in 1996. He comes from the Black Panther party, and has a background in fighting for racial equality. He has many popular songs, but “Changes” is one of the most influential. The song is about how people, regardless of race, should unite and make changes as a group. Although the song is two decades old, it still applies to current times. In his song, he conveys a message of justice against systemic racism and disrupts the values of ethnic norms by using rhyme schemes, allusions, and anaphoras to call attention to how people of color are marginalized.
Tupac uses rhyme schemes to disrupt the values of system racism and ethnic norms. In the first verse he says, “Cops give a damn about a negro/Pull the trigger, kill a n*gga, he’s a hero.” Tupac rhymes the words “negro” and “hero” to show how when a cop kills a black man, he’s seen as a hero; he does this to disrupt the ethnic norm of black people being recognized as criminals. Tupac is demonstrating to the listener that black people are seen as heroes because they take gunshots in order to bring society a step closer to equality and justice against systemic racism; by taking the gunshots, blacks are helping to end racism. He erases the negative stereotype of black criminals and replaces it with a positive compliment. As the verse progresses, Tupac also states, “I got love for my brother/ But we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other.” By using this rhyme scheme, Tupac is emphasizing that progress can’t be made if society doesn’t work together and accept to appreciate each other’s differences. He’s disrupting the belief of systemic racism by implying that if people of all colors work together, they can create equality. Furthermore into the next verse, Tupac states “‘Cause both black and white are smokin’ crack tonight”. He states this to demonstrate to the reader that black and white people both do drugs, but only black people get the derogatory image of being a criminal. Tupac is bringing attention to the listener that white people should be considered criminals as well if they do the same actions as blacks. This use of a rhyme scheme between the words “white” and “tonight” disrupts the belief of ethnic norms because it shows that this black stereotype of doing drugs intertwines with white people.
Tupac uses allusions to highlight the flaws of ethnic norms and systemic racism. A clear example would be in the first verse when he states “‘It’s time to fight back’ that’s what Huey said/ Two shots in the dark, now Huey’s dead”. Tupac alludes to Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panthers, to accentuate the problem with ethnic norms. He wants to show how white people are exploiting their power by killing powerful black people in hopes of defending their supremacy. This disrupts the values of ethnic norms because it shows that white people are actually the societal criminals, and that they should be the ones with that label attached to them. Also, Tupac shows how heroic a black person can be because he or she is a threat to achieving equality. As the song progresses to the third verse, Tupac states, “It’s war on the streets and a war in the Middle East”. The “war in the Middle East” is an allusion to The Gulf War. This allusion by Tupac points out how America focuses on war outside of the country instead of the “war on the streets” which is the struggle of equality. Tupac reveals that white people aren’t addressing civil problems with their power. He disrupts the values of systemic racism because he’s showing that white people aren’t capable of using their power correctly.
Tupac utilizes several anaphoras to emphasize America’s internalization of systemic racism. This is indicated when he includes the phrase “I see no changes” in each first sentence of every verse. Tupac does this to show the listener how people in society have internalized systemic racism in themselves. This evidence is used to emphasize how there are no “changes” being made and that they need to happen in order to disrupt systemic racism. He constantly uses this phrase throughout the song to show how over time he still doesn’t see any “changes” of inequality in race. Another anaphora seen throughout the lyrics of the song is the constant phrase “things’ll never be the same”. This anaphora strengthens Tupac’s argument about the need for equality. He repeats this phrase to show that there will never be equality between races and that they’ll “never be the same” if things don’t change. He’s showing the listener that there is a chance to disrupt systemic racism, but people need to change in order for it to happen.
Tupac calls attention to black people being marginalized by using rhyme schemes, allusions, and anaphoras to disrupt the values of ethnic norms and systemic racism in his song “Changes:. Tupac is using his artform to show people that all people are equal in power regardless of skin color. He persists that one day there will be change for equality. He wants to show all of his listeners, black and white, that they can bring change to the world if they work together as a group.
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