I want to be black
Have natural rhythm
Shoot twenty feet of jism, too
And fuck up Jews
I want to be black
I want to be a Panther

Have a girlfriend named Samantha
And have a stable of foxy whores
Oh I want to be black

I don't want to be a fucked up, middle class,
College student anymore
I just want to have a stable of foxy little whores
Yeah, yeah I want to be black

I want to be black
I want to be like Martin Luther King
And get myself shot in spring
And lead a whole generation too
And fuck up the Jews

I want to be black, I want to be like Malcolm X
And cast a hex over President Kennedy's tomb
And have a big prick, too


Lyrics submitted by spliphstar

I Wanna Be Black Lyrics as written by Lou Reed Lewis Allen Reed

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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I Wanna Be Black song meanings
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  • +4
    General CommentThose who are posting on this obviously haven't actually heard the song, and just read the lyrics.
    The whole song is said tounge-in-cheek, and he has a group of black females doing blacking vocals and is done in a southern jazz/blues style.
    He even says "I never said I was tasteful" when he sang it.
    This is really a hilarious, boundry-pushing song. You guys who can't understand that is meant to be ironic are idiots
    splitmyselfin2on September 12, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYou have to get past the initial shock value and actually read the lyics. Lou Reed is sending up "wannabe" blacks (nowadays referred to as "whiggers"--there have been several comedy films made about the phenomenon), who imitate what they perceive as the "cool" things that lower-class or ghetto blacks do, but end up insulting black people with their stupid antics. "I don't wanna be a fucked-up, middle class, college student anymore" is the key lyric here. Maybe people offended by the lyrics aren't black, but are college students? Well, yeah--Lou sure tears those morons a new one!
    Boskoon September 03, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is such a hilarious take on the stereotypes of black people in the 70's. Its satirical not racist.
    kcook4on October 22, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentCompared to todays racist rap garbage this is mild. This one never got much air time and probaly never will. It is a parody of "whiggers", a term that was not even around at the time this one was written. The Whole album "Street Hassle",on which this song made it's debut was a dark,angst filled LP. one of my Lou Reed favorites. The wannabes get the reeming they deserve on this one. And oh, by the way on the Lp "Take No Prisoners" Lou has black female back up singers on this song and they are laughing all through the song.
    worthlesson February 26, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe meaning of this song is clear to me.
    I don't agree that it's being racist, although the language seems so.
    It's a "Punk" attitude towards self identity and middle-class value.
    GoldenBlueon December 31, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYes, this is clearly a send-up of an embarrassing aspect of white American culture in the 1970s, but I don't think Reed is just putting down other people's unwitting racism; I think he's also poking fun at his younger self. In some of those early recordings he was obviously trying to sound black. And when he says "I don't wanna be a fucked up middle-class college student anymore" I think he has some sympathy for that foolish student, because he was that person once. The "fuck up the Jews" line adds both a serious note -- he's taking a big risk there, acknowledging an uncomfortable truth about guys like Farrakhan -- and a rather heartbreaking, poignant note, because Reed was Jewish himself, and I think that in his youth he was a little ashamed of that. Antisemitism was so pervasive in American culture that he couldn't help but internalize it to some degree. His own father had changed his name from Rabinowitz to Reed, downplaying his Jewishness in order to fit in. Anyway, this is the kind of song that could so easily be misconstrued, and I think he knew that, but he had to write it anyway, because it was the truth, and no artist worth his salt avoids telling the truth just because it's risky.
    rosalyreon April 26, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's probably meant to be ironic.
    Eatcarpeton March 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe AllMusic.com review for Street Hassle states that I Wanna Be Black “sounds like a bad idea today”.

    REALLY?!? I mean, I guess I understand why someone (Who was NOT a record reviewer) might write that, but the song is about White lame-o’s utterly and completely missing any understanding of African-Americans. In their minds black people are not actual people, they’re caricatures, broken down to the lowest common denominator. Yes, the song repeats African-American stereotypes, but IWBB is NOT about black people in any way, it’s about how whites, even those who claim to “love“ ALL PEOPLES, can and do reduce them, in their minds, to racist stereotypes.
    force263on July 06, 2020   Link
  • -1
    General CommentFirst off, Lou was an asshole. But not just because of this. I think he’s making fun of the black icons and the kind of things you associate with them... big peckers, whores, etc. Lou always goes for the obvious rhyme and was a lazy songwriter churning out album after album of unlistenable shit. Then he’s also making fun of middle class whites that idolize black imagery. The type that wear their pants down low with their ass hanging out, listen to loud rap and talk like they’re tough hood guys while shopping at the mall with Moms credit card. I don’t think Lou likes blacks.
    erocktica1on August 23, 2020   Link
  • -3
    General CommentThis song is a fucking racist hate crime. Fuck, Lou Reed is an asshole. he might have made some good songs but this song is horse shit.
    River Wolfon November 17, 2004   Link

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