Black People Are Like the ‘Neglected Wife’ of the Democratic Party
Kevin Winter / Getty Images for Coachella
Since Outkast was introduced to the hip-hop stratosphere with his single “The Whole World” in 2001, Killer Mike has been an integral part of the southern hip-hop landscape. However, he became a national political presence during the presidential election after endorsing Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton.
Mike’s passionate support for the Vermont white Jewish grandfather piqued enough curiosity to land him on CNN, MSNBC, ABC’s The View, and more. But Killer Mike is the first to announce that his political advocacy for the black community did not begin and will not end with Sanders.
Born to teenage parents, Mike Render was raised by his grandparents in Collier Heights, a historic Atlanta neighborhood that was once teeming with black political currency. Mike was personally familiar with the seminal black mayors of Atlanta – Maynard Jackson, the first of his city, and Andrew Young, who followed Jackson – and grew up in the shadow of the civil rights social revolution brought about by Atlanta’s most famous native, Martin Luther King Jr. Mike’s grandparents, led, became very politically aware and passed that on to him.
“I have been involved in political activities since I was seven or eight years old. My grandmother made me promote local politicians, “says Mike as he traveled between tour dates in the Midwest to support his latest album, Run the Jewels 3, named after the duo he played with in 2013 white rapper El-P from Company Flow.
Mike says he has become more firmly anchored in politics under the guidance of the King’s former aide, Rev. James Orange. “Politically, I was spiced up very early,” he repeats. “When I was 15 years old, I organized.”
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Back then, hip-hop complemented his political activism. “I was born in 1975,” he explains. Growing up, he said, “The only people who, in my opinion, seemed to be telling the truth about what was going on at the time were rappers. School style D. [with] PSK, BDP, later NWA, Geto Boys, you know, Public Enemy. They were the only ones telling the real truth about what had happened. “
What happened at the time included crack cocaine, murder, poverty, and mass imprisonment. Mike took note of it and, despite his name, which actually came from him, began to “kill” other moderators at the microphone, using the knowledge in his rhymes. In 2012 he received critical acclaim for his fifth studio album, RAP Music (RAP stood for Rebellious African People), in particular for his single “Reagan”, a searing criticism of the GOP’s patron saint who sampled Reagan’s voice. Mike even had his own political radio show on Atlanta’s black talk radio station WAOK in 2013.
When Sanders emerged as Clinton’s rival for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Mike, to his own surprise, found much in common with the Vermont senator.
“If the [Voting] The Rights Act was gutted, we immediately saw the redesign of the county boundaries, ”says Mike. “We have seen black politicians who were almost legacy politicians in areas that were voted out because their protections were essentially tossed in the trash. Well, when that white politician I didn’t know then said one of his first acts as president would be to restore that, and then, secondly, [he] talked about the decriminalization of marijuana, [he got my attention]. ”
Sanders’ view of marijuana struck Mike very emotionally because he had long recognized the use of cannabis criminalization against young black men in urban communities. “Marijuana became the gateway drug for black boys. What they did essentially was bring petty marijuana charges, attract black boys, and get them on record as early as possible. To see a politician talk about it, I had to listen to this guy, ”he recalls.
Sanders’ support left an even bitter taste for the Democratic Party that blacks have overwhelmingly followed for decades. “What has happened as Democrats in the last 50 to 60 years,” he says, “is that we have become almost like a neglected woman.” We are loyal. We are over 80 to 90 percent democratic and the bigger party doesn’t seem to care.
“Everyone brags that unemployment has dropped to 5 percent, but that doesn’t apply to African American men,” he continues. “It’s not true among African American youth, but we don’t keep our feet in front of the fire of the people we vote for.”
Needless to say that Democratic National Committee and the national party that Clinton prefers to Sanders did very little to improve his cognition. “I think it was an insult and a shame that they were allowed to betray a better opponent,” he says, referring to the leaked emails documenting the DNC’s preference for Clinton despite publicly vowing to remain neutral .
It also shattered his trust in some Democrats he once admired. “I was ashamed too [debate] Questions forwarded to Hillary Clinton early on by some of the black Democrats we trusted, [like] Donna Brazile. That was heartbreaking. “
Today he is even more cynical about the blind democratic loyalty of blacks. “If we want to stay Democrats, what are we going to ask for?” he asks.
Coincidentally, a Donald Trump presidency only made him cling more firmly to the tried and tested forms of action that have historically helped bring the black community to dance. “In the age of Trump, we have to do what we haven’t done in the past eight years. That’s supposed to be a force at the local level in places like Ferguson, places like St. Louis, places like Atlanta, places like Watts, Inglewood, and places like Harlem, where we still have some kind of fortress, ”he says.
But politics is not his only concern. The economy is also very important, and this change, says Mike, who also owns a barber shop, begins with us.
“Black people, if you don’t already have the economic power you want, want or deserve, if you don’t have political power as a proxy because you were just a slave to a political party, I think it’s time you started To use your voice as currency that you start asking for more, ”he says.
“And it’s time you self-parted your dollar and closed your virginity by letting the dollar run out. We need to start taking the example of other successful communities and emulating them, ”he preaches. “If we were as loyal to other black companies as we were to black hairdressers and black beauty salons, we would be unstoppable.”