When The Dream first debuted the lyric video for his song “Black” Donald Sterling had just ignited a racial controversy with his bigoted remarks regarding Magic Johnson. Now the official music video debuts on the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. This timing adds grandeur to a hauntingly beautiful video that explores many forms of injustice but also the consistent quest for civil liberties throughout world history.
The Dream stands in a dirty highway of South Africa’s Langa Townhship with guns pointed at him. He’s not alone for long as many begin marching behind him, each representing a different civil crusade from the past few years. Eventually banner holders from Gay rights organizations, Occupy Wall street, Anonymous, Take Back the Night and many more emerge around The Dream and advance towards those holding the guns. This is one of the many incredible things about the video: It is able to express the terrible things in this world while still focusing on the many groups that are doing everything to fight them.
Many images eerily compliment the lyrics, such as when a banner proclaims “Classism is the New Racism” over his refrain of “I’m feeling real Black right now” and when The Dream tributes Nelson Mandela while standing in the South African landscape. The lyrics themselves are extremely personal to The Dream’s life, with references to his parents and once being too young to understand Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. The music video succeeds in making his plight universally known while associating it with other acts of social injustice, presenting the idea of discrimination in more complicated terms than black and white.
At the end of the video a text from The Dream reads “Black isn’t just a color. Black isn’t just a race anymore. It’s a feeling and a place from which one feels isolated by the world of the governing elite. Classism is the new racism. This is what black feels like.” This idea explains the mixing of races in the video, including a poignant image of a shirtless white man standing shoulder to shoulder with other (presumably oppressed) Black men at the 2:34 mark.
The video is a huge departure from The Dream’s previous work, though that shouldn’t deter his fans one bit. “I needed to take a step in a direction away from my comfort zone and do and say and sing something worthwhile”. Mission Accomplished.
Be sure to check out the video for right here.