My students write raps about the 2016 election (Vice. Nov 2016).


When I saw the election, I saw Drumpf winning /
And after that my head got to spinning.
Drumpf is bad / Drumpf is sad too
Drumpf look like Hitler from World War Two.
He won the election because he cheated /
It’s the only reason he didn’t get beated.
–Jaylon, fifth grade

At the Spanish-language immersion school where I currently teach kids to write rap songs, most of my students are black or Latino. The school’s staff is made up almost exclusively of immigrants from Mexico, Spain, Honduras, and other Spanish-speaking countries. And so I felt extra nauseous on Wednesday, the day after Election Day, going into work. They all must have been wondering who in their American midst could have possibly voted for that racist monster. I, the only white man, would be the only real possible suspect.

But instead of calling off work and sautéing myself in red wine and white tears, I got in my car. New Orleans’s unusually silent, lonely streets felt a lot like Ash Wednesday, the day after every Mardi Gras: like a bomb went off. Like the party was clearly over.

At school I was still greeted warmly. And after taking roll and passing out snacks and joking with the fifth graders about their very real election frustrations, I slowly began to realize… no other day would be better for writing raps. America’s Reagan years had worked like steroids on both hip-hop and punk rock. Rap was first forged specifically as a tool to express the kinds of feelings so many of us shared. Hip-hop was made for today.

As we sat down with our drum machine, paper, and pencils, I made a point not to tell the kids my own political opinions. I wanted the thoughts and words in their couplets to be wholly their own. But since not a lot of Drumpf voters send their kids to Spanish immersion schools, my students’ opinions weren’t very surprising or dynamic. Kids like Evin were as mad and let down and worried as any of us:

Tuesday was Election Day / On that day, I lost my way.
He dislikes the way I look / Sometimes I think he is a crook.
Donald Drumpf is a clown / I hope he doesn’t let us down.
Clinton is a great lady / We all know that Drumpf is shady.

Hillary Clinton should have won / After that election, I think I’m done.
I feel bad for my country / I thought this was the home of the free.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of my students’ raps about the election at Vice…

Or watch this cute music video my students made some years back during summer camp:

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