With just the right amount of angst and passion, Eminem’s Untouchable details the two sides of racial injustice.
The first two verses of the song confront the criminalization of the African-American culture, a practice that was once widely accepted and though it has been reduced, it still exists today in our criminal justice system. Eminem’s Untouchable challenges listeners to grasp the roots of racism and how the refusal to learn from history is what keeps the cycle going.
“Untouchable” starts out like a racist monologue. In the first verse, Eminem sets a scenario where a black boy is unjustly pulled over based on his skin color and racial assumptions that he’s carrying drugs. If you watched the news, you’d know that this still happens today. In fact, a 2015 study by Mapping Police Violence showed that black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people.
The song also goes into more detail about the police officer’s opinions on black people like his disapproval of their saggy pants, attitude and his refusal to understand their culture. What makes this verse really strong were the lines “We don’t care what our government’s done to fuck you over, man. Don’t tell us your attitude is a result of that.” These lines illustrate the very roots of racism which are plain and simple ignorance accompanied by a lack of empathy.
The song then switches from that of a white cop’s perspective to a black man’s standpoint. The verse tackles the struggles African-American people go through— “We’re applying, but McDonald’s seems to be the only franchise that’ll hire. So how can we have higher standards?” — and how hard work isn’t always enough for them to succeed. Eminem also tackled “subconscious racism,” which is something that stems from the media’s portrayal of black men.
Untouchable successfully tells two sides of an issue that still needs fixing to this day. Eminem isn’t the first artist to talk about this issue but it’s an influential reminder that society needs to continue this conversation, especially today in the Trump administration.