Taylor Swift’s 1830s Lyrics Spark Backlash From African Americans – Newsweek

Taylor Swift’s 1830s Lyrics Spark Backlash From African Americans – Newsweek

Taylor Swift has divided music fans with lyrics from her new album that say she wishes she lived in the 1830s.

Swift, 34, released her new album, The Tortured Poets Department (TTPD), Friday, which featured the song “I Hate It Here.”

In the opening lines of the second verse, Swift sings about how she and her friends were “playing a game where/We’d choose a decade/We wished we could live instead of that.”

Taylor Swift performs during the “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” at the National Stadium on March 2, 2024 in Singapore. She was criticized for the lyrics of her new album.

Ashok Kumar/TAS24/Getty Images

“I’d say the 1830s but without all the racists/And marrying at the highest price,” Swift sings.

The song then goes on to concede: “Seems like it was never fun back then/Nostalgia is a magic trick/If I was there I’d hate it/It was cold in the palace.”

But the phrase about the 1830s raised many eyebrows, particularly among black people, who pointed out that slavery was still legal at that time. Women also did not have the right to vote and it was a time marked by many health pandemics, including influenza and cholera.

News week contacted Swift representatives via email for comment.

Kiki Rae Real, a creator of anti-racist educational content, argued that the way we define racism today was not applicable in the 1830s, when even “[slavery] Abolitionists of the time were not free from anti-black views. »

“These people who opposed the institution of slavery also did not believe that African Americans were equal to white Americans. Black people were still considered inferior,” Real said in a video posted to TikTok.

“Much like the views of Abraham Lincoln, ‘Mr. Free the Slaves himself,’ do you think Lincoln thought he was racist? Probably not.”

Real added that one did not have to be a slave owner at the time to have racist views,
“just like you don’t have to be a member of the version of the ‘crazy c***** club we have today to be racist today.’

“Black northern residents still faced considerable racism and racial discrimination. They lived in the poorest and most unsanitary parts of the cities, barred from employment except menial work, and were periodically harassed by white mobs,” Real said.

“You see, the 1830s don’t exist without racism and racists.”

TikTok user @andwelcometo is another person who attempted to contextualize the history of the era and its impact on today’s world to explain why Swift’s lyrics are problematic.

She argued that modern-day feminists, including Swift, need to ensure they are “intersectional” with their advocacy and that it is not enough to simply dismiss the 1830s by saying “without all the racists” , because women were then affected by many discriminatory laws. as they are now, just like black people.

“It’s a very white lens to filter through… it’s not about broadening it to understand everything that’s going on and the context of the times,” she began.

“It also shows how much you don’t understand how this shit keeps happening. [these] days, how these systems have manifested themselves in different ways over time.

She then used examples of forced sterilization of black women throughout history, comparing them to recent forced sterilizations and abortions of migrant women in U.S. detention centers. The TikToker also used the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, which allowed federal access to abortion and whose decision led to the maintenance of archaic abortion laws, such as in Arizona , as further proof of his argument.

“The problem is the fact that you’re trying to romanticize and create a fantasy around a time period in the 1830s while ignoring what was happening simultaneously in the United States at the exact same time,” she laments.

“White women want to separate these things. You want to remove or separate being white from being a woman and we can’t do that to try to defend that by saying, ‘Well, she recognized that ‘there was racism’.

The TikToker added, “It actually highlights how little white women have exposed their internalized misogyny and they’re still playing into the systems of patriarchy,” and implored her followers, “Understand why the bullshit she said in this song are so fucking problematic.

“Nothing is going to change. You won’t have the freedom and equality you say you want, it won’t happen.”

She ended by saying that white women “want all the rewards without doing any of the work…And know that if your feminism isn’t intersectional, it’s not really feminism.”

But other people disagreed with the criticism, including self-proclaimed “Swifttie” – Swift megafan – Tina_365.

She had stitched up another TikTok creator who criticized Swift. Stitching on TikTok involves adding a video to yours in order to contribute or critique it. In her video, she asked people to “stop making Swifties victims of POC (people of color).”

“We are not victims, because if you read the rest of the lyrics, instead of just picking out the parts you want to fit into your narrative, [you will] understand that the song is about nostalgia,” Tina explained, adding that the song is about realizing just because you believe “the grass is greener” hoping to live in a different decade isn’t true because “that would not solve any of the problems we currently have.”

“Stop making POC, Swifties, and people who love her music victims because we’re not,” Tina concluded.


#greenscreen ‼️ I DO NOT SPEAK FOR EVERY BLACK PERSON OR PERSON OF COLOR. I’M ADDING MY CRITICAL OPINION BASED ON THE ENTIRE CONTEXT OF THE SONG‼️ I’m well aware that sl*very was horrible, but I would say that r*cism was the foundation of r*cism. Taylor saying she wouldn’t want to live in a world with racism should be obvious that sl*very falls under that umbrella. No matter what, be kind to each other ❤️❤️#ihateithere #swifttok #swiftie #pocswiftie #bekind

♬ I hate it here – Taylor Swift

Lydia Bangura, music researcher, podcast host His musical universitySwift also reluctantly defended.

“I’m the last person to defend Taylor Swift and her racist fans, but these words piqued my interest because it’s the first time I know of that she’s spoken openly about race?” Bangura wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“I think people decontextualize it for a fancy joke and you should hear HOW she sings it.”

News week reached out to Real, Bangura and Tina via email for comment, and reached out to @andwelcometo via TikTok messages.