Cultural bias is a common theme in the world of music.
The lyrics of some songs can be racist in their usage, and the music itself is often loaded with racist lyrics.
But are these lyrics really racist?
Not necessarily, say researchers.
The authors of a new study have been looking at how much a song can actually be racist without the lyrics being racist.
They found that while some songs were racist, many were not.
In a study conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois and published in the journal PLOS ONE, they found that the songs that were not racist were actually fairly benign, and didn’t contain any offensive language.
The findings could help explain why songs like Rihanna’s “Party in the U.S.A.” and the Black Eyed Peas’ “Hurt” aren’t as racist as people make them out to be.
“It seems to be the case that these songs are actually less offensive than we might think,” said lead researcher Dr. Michael Shatz.
The study looked at how different songs were categorized according to the words that were used to describe them.
For example, songs like “Party In The U. S.A.”, “Huff n’ Hurt” and “Party Hard” were all categorized as racist, whereas “Party” was categorized as benign.
“We were surprised by the difference,” said Shatz, adding that the research was done to “address the issues of cultural bias in music and media, as well as to address a longstanding cultural concern about the appropriateness of lyrics to describe sexual assault.”
Shatz explained that the researchers did not use the term “racism” to describe the songs.
Instead, they defined the term as “cultural bias, which is a negative view of the cultural practices and attitudes of another culture.”
The researchers then took this data and created a map of the different categories of songs.
The map shows that the types of racist lyrics used in music are quite diverse, and varied widely across cultures.
“One of the interesting findings was that even though these songs were all classified as non-racist, they all had a high rate of use of racial epithets and other racist language,” said study co-author Dr. Alex R. Wolkow, a professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo.
“They were all coded as such because they all included racist lyrics, and this was a finding that we hadn’t previously seen.”
The authors noted that the study does not indicate whether the lyrics were actually racist, or if they were simply used to make a point.
“However, these songs may have served as a marker of cultural attitudes towards race, and therefore they might be viewed as less racist than their lyrics would indicate,” they said.
The researchers also found that songs that are categorized as non-, or benign, are less likely to be categorized as racially discriminatory than songs that use the word “racist.”
“In general, benign songs tended to be more socially acceptable than racist songs, which suggests that the terms are not inherently discriminatory,” said Wolkoview.
“If these are benign songs, then this is not necessarily the case, since they are not overtly racist.
We do not find that the benign songs are more racist than the racist ones, but we do find that they are less racist.”
The study did find that while “Party,” “Party Strong” and other songs were less offensive, the songs “Party and Party Hard” and the song “Hook Up” were more racist.
The results also suggest that if the music was not actually racist at all, then there would be a higher chance of being racially discriminatory in the music.
“The more problematic the lyrics, the more likely the listener would be to use them,” said Ravi Narayan, a sociology professor at the City University of New York.
“In the case of ‘Party’, it seems that the song is not racist, but that the lyrics are offensive to people who are racist.”
However, the study did not find any correlation between the amount of racism in a song and how offensive it was to use.
“There was no evidence that the more racist the lyrics actually are, the less likely it is that they will be perceived as racist,” said Narayan.
The scientists said that while there is some evidence that some music is racist, the studies they looked at had limited data.
The research could also have implications for music education.
Narayan explained that some people have found it helpful to learn music as a way to engage in conversations with other people, but it could be problematic if it is used as a tool to label people based on their racial identity.
“Music education could benefit from incorporating a more culturally sensitive perspective,” said Dr. Narayanas research director, Dr. Annette A. Shanks.
“This may be especially true in a music education program that focuses on the relationship between racism and music and the experiences of people of color.”
Shanks added that she hopes the study will “help to clarify the nature of cultural