In the city of Detroit, 8 Mile Road is the unofficial divider of black and white communities. The main character in 8 Mile, the movie based on the infamous road, is named Jimmy Smith, Jr. Jimmy is an aspiring white rapper from the white side of 8 Mile Road. Often during his journey in the movie he crosses over the divider and into a territory where he becomes the minority. He is constantly fighting for acceptance in a community where he is believed by others to be an outsider. 8 Mile deals with many racial issues, but twists those issues into a white man being discriminated, which is rare to see when race issues are talked about.
Ever since the rap genre of music began in the early 1980s, it's musicians and followers have been prominently black. In 1995, when 8 Mile took place, the world had only known of two white rappers, Vanilla Ice and Everlast. Both these rappers were never taken seriously and both fizzled out of the scene within a couple of years. To see a serious and talented white rapper was blasphemous before Eminem came around in 1999, there was no such thing. Jimmy Smith, Jr. dealt with a lot of issues with people not taking him seriously and comparing him to Vanilla Ice and Everlast. In the beginning of the movie Jimmy leaves the bathroom that he is in and tries to get backstage for a battle (A battle is when two rappers go face to face on a stage in front of a crowd and they make fun of each other while freestyling to background music playing) that he is participating in at the Shelter, a local late night Detroit hangout. He is denied entrance by the bouncer backstage although that bouncer saw him leave and saw the V.I.P. stamp on his hand. He was denied because he was white and wasn't taken seriously because of the color of his skin. After he was escorted in by his friend and battle host "Future" (Mekhi Phifer) he goes to battle real life rapper Proof. Proof went first and in his first verse he makes several comparisons of Jimmy to Vanilla Ice and Everlast and goes on to say "they ain't laughing at you because your wack, they"re laughing at you cause your white with a mic.