Rapping against racism
May 4, 2018
The 2016 election changed the lives of millions of Americans. One of its most visible effects was how it inspired dissatisfied citizens to resist and voice their beliefs. Sophomore Kai Burke is one of these angered Americans, but instead of protesting or ranting on social media, he uses a more unique method of expressing himself.
Burke is a Soundcloud rapper who goes by the name “Chronickai”. The election influenced him to share his thoughts and political frustrations with the world. Now he translates his experiences with racism and injustice into rhythm and rhyme.
“I was upset about the election and that was the first thing I actually wrote about,” Burke said. “The racism and the disrespect towards all types of people [angered me].”
Burke has had his own experiences with racism. During his freshman year, another student harassed him because of his Asian background.
“I was walking, doing my thing when one guy last year walked by and uttered a slur,” Burke said. “I didn’t even know him. It was just random.”
That was not the first time Burke has felt uncomfortable because of his race, however. As a child, he felt different than his peers.
“When I was little, I went to a school with mostly white people so I felt like I didn’t really fit in and I didn’t really know why,” Burke said.
Burke explores this discomfort and his identity with songs like “Island Boy”. “Island Boy” features many allusions to the Philippines, where Burke still has family.
“Being mixed and not always feeling like I fit in one category inspired me to write stuff like ‘Island Boy’,” Burke said. “My experience going to the Philippines influenced ‘Island Boy’ in particular. That put it in perspective. I was eight at the time so I didn’t really know what anything meant until I went back there and explored it.”
Burke not only wishes to express himself through his music, but he wants to influence others as well. After all the hate he witnessed during the election, Burke hopes people can become more open-minded through music.
“I’m just trying to educate people about racism in certain songs and to educate people to be more open and not judge people by any labels,” Burke said.
I’m just trying to educate people about racism in certain songs and to educate people to be more open and not judge people by any labels”
— Kai Burke
Burke believes that the kind of change he desires can be achieved through music, especially rap. He thinks that rap is not only a satisfying creative outlet, but also an effective political tool, one that he intends to keep using in the future to advocate for his beliefs.
“The whole purpose of rap is the political aspect of it…if you don’t want to hear that, don’t listen to it,” Burke said.