Why, Mr. Mayer, must you be such an amazingly-talented jerk? Is it too much to ask you to pick a side? I’ve been a hardcore fan since my first concert in ’03. I was one of the few bits of color belting out lyrics in a sea of white. I was a one-man conversion team, trying desperately to convince my black and brown friends that John Legend wasn’t the only John in town. I would search out small venue concerts so I could enjoy a more intimate concert experience. Yes, I was one of those.
But no more. I just can’t do it. Though your lyrics still speak to me in a way most others don’t, it’s you I can’t stand. You lost a lot of black fans when you said what you did. For me, it wasn’t about the whole “not being attracted to black girls” thing. I couldn’t care less who you’re attracted to. (If it matters at all, I was never attracted to you, so I guess we’re even there.) What bothers me is the way you chose to express that lack of attraction.
I’ve never met you, but from you’re music, you’ve always seemed like a smart man, like a socially aware man, like someone I could have good conversations with. But when you make comments likening yourself (parts of yourself) to David Duke and white supremacists, I’m forced to see you in a whole new light. I know your defense: “I didn’t mean it. It came out the wrong way. I didn’t think before I spoke.”
Honestly, that makes it worse. The things we say without thinking are often the truest. They slip out before we get a chance to doctor them up into what other people want to hear. They give a more genuine look at who we really are. And from this angle, I must say, I don’t like what I see.
I’m sure you know what David Duke represents, so there is no need to rehash the dramatic details. You know the hate he preaches and harbors in his heart. I hate to think that you harbor similar feelings. Again, I know your defense: “It was just a joke. I was trying to sound cool. I don’t hate black women.” And I believe you. You probably don’t hate black women consciously, but anyone who would make those kinds of comments, even jokingly, must have a lot going on subconsciously that they probably haven’t allowed themselves to face.
I don’t want this to sound like an excerpt from the diary of a mad black women, because that wouldn’t be a fair representation of who I am, but I have no problem dealing in reality. So, let’s be real. Black women rarely get fair depictions in the media. We are either hyper-sexualized as ample-bosomed, big-butt-toting sex objects or completely desexualized as overbearing, I-don’t-need-a-man ball busters that gladly carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We’ve been reduced to caricatures of images that were already exaggerated and skewed. There are few, if any, healthy, balanced images of black female sexuality. And on top of all that, here comes one of my all-time favorites comparing his lack of sexual attraction for black women to the most infamous racist group in America. Can you see how I might have a problem with that?
With all that said, you music is still wonderful. Regardless of if I like it not, at least one of your songs is almost always on my daily mental playlist. “Daughters” is still brilliant and amazingly-relevant, and “Gravity” is still packed with truth and wisdom. That will never change, but my perception of you, I’m afraid, has.