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Monday, November 9, 2009

The Race to Nowhere: Chuck D on being “Black in America” (Hello CNN)

I am, Black in America. So when the “critically acclaimed” television special aired on CNN, I didn’t bother watching it. Whether the show was an hour, or three hours long, I felt that I’d more likely walk away from it with something taken away from me, than given to me. I live in Urban America. My parents and grandparents and so forth have lived in Urban America. To know it, you must live it, and I’m sorry, but interviewing those that do, then editing the footage to create dramatic television, isn’t official to me.

So what I wanted to do was sit down, face to face with an iconic face in Urban culture to not pose the question, “What does it mean to you, being black in America?” I wanted to breathe in and out, a natural conversation that would touch on the subject without a word towards it. So when I sat down with Chuck D, leader of the LEGENDARY (yes, legendary) Public Enemy, I knew that our conversation would walk us down a road less traveled; the realistic one.

These are Chuck D’s views, word for word
Being “Black in America” in 2009 means that we have no excuse for being tired. Being “Black in America” you should know that the cheapest price you could pay is attention. It also means that we must be as active with ourselves and understanding, as the President is right now. Let’s go further, being “Black in America” has introduced us to a lot of individualism. When you talk about being “Latino in America” there is still a collective in place, a team effort. When you talk about Latino’s, the men outnumber the boys. The men work together in abundance. “Black in America” maybe you’ll see in the entertainment business, 8 or 9 dudes working together, but even that has to be questioned. Are they really working together or are these 8 dudes securing the 1 dude that is really working? “Latino in America” if you see 12 dudes working, they are all working in a zone. They take lunch together and they are eating quietly. When that bell sounds, they are back working as a collective. When the weekend comes, they might pray together or watch their sons play soccer, together, raising their families together. You can’t beat that collective. Once upon a time, people used to laugh at the eight Latino’s crammed in a Caprice, but the point was that it was 8 of them rolling together. “Black in America” used to mirror that in the 60’s. You’d see 8 black men rolling up in a Cutlass, being that collective. Then it got to a point where those cats felt that they were moving on up, so they all got their own cars. Now you’ll have one dude in one car, another dude in another and they never meet. People are now quick to say that they don’t need anyone, but no man or woman is an island. Individualism is really eating at the core of Black America. It’s a big issue.


  1. Wow! I never thought of it that way. But I dont think that is limited to the balck bommunity. I think Americans, and the modern world as a whole have adopted more of an individual mentality. neighbors dont speak to neighbors, and so on...

  2. The very first filmed interview I ever did was w/Chuck D. I met him @ WHUR in DC for what was supposed to be a :15 minute chat. We ended up talking, conversing for almost two hours in the lobby. It was an amazing conversation, enlightening, invigorating, riveting and informative; Chuck confirmed, piqued, challenged and co-signed a lot of my opinions about BEing Black in Amerikka, whilst also letting me know that there was a platform for forward thinking folks within Rap at that time ... (late 80' or early 90's ... I'd have to do the research to be exact). The station manager came out with the intent to shut us down, listened for a few minutes, gave us his blessing and told folks not to mess w/us ... if he could run the audio at a later date on WHUR!!! (I think)Talking to Chuck D. should be a mandatory annual event for POCs in the media. Great Brother.