While a guest on The Late Show on CBS Wednesday evening, Killer Mike -- a hip hop artist and social activist -- told liberal host Stephen Colbert that the American government in several levels is successful at isolating poor people and minorities by putting them "in communities that can be controlled.”
“If white people are just now discovering that it's bad for black or working-class people in America, they're a lot more blind than I thought,” the rapper whose real name is Michael Render stated, “and they're a lot more choosing to be ignorant than I thought.”
“The same problems that we're discussing today we discussed in 1990, 1980, 1970 and 1960,” the rapper continued, and they won't be resolved “until we call a spade a spade, and we say that this problem is coming from conditions that we're creating or allowing to happen as a white group of people who hold a certain amount of power.”
Early in the interview, Colbert asked his guest a simple question: “Why Killer Mike?”
The black activist replied:
Well, I didn't name myself. It wasn't like some kid was standing in a mirror and decided he looked like a killer.
But I rapped against a kid as a kid, and I rapped against him really well, and then seven, eight other guys stood on a desk much like this and said “That kid's a killer,” and after that, no one ever called me “Skunk” again in my life. It was just “Killer.”
The host then described his guest as “a civic leader; you're socially active, a hip hop artist.”
“I own barber shops,” the activist added, and “I'm in a very good rap group called Run the Jewels.”
“This year, tragically,” Colbert stated, “a lot of people in the white community have found out about the life of African-Americans in Ferguson and Baltimore and North Charleston and other places around the United States.”
“Do you think that the awareness that has risen from the tragedies has changed anything, at least in our national dialogue?” he asked.
The guest stated he believed that to be the case, and the host then asked: “Do you think there's a systemic attempt in the United States to isolate poor and minorities to put them in communities that can be controlled?”
Render answered: “It’s not an attempt at all. it’s successful.”
“What can we do to bridge the gap between the communities of color?” Colbert asked. “You own barber shops. Should white people start getting their hair cut at black barber shops?”
“I hope so,” Render replied enthusiastically.
“You know, there are conversations going on in those barber shops that we're not part of,” Colbert asserted.
“And white people pay $50 for a haircut,” the activist stated to laughter from the audience.
Killer Mike then stated:
I speak at colleges often. … The message that I preach to white kids … is get outside the college environment, find a child who is marginal or doing exceptional in school who’s a minority, who doesn’t look like you, not of the same religion, not of the same background -- help that child matriculate into college.
What you're going to get out of that experience is another human being that's taking full advantage of an educational system that can help them in their community.
But more than that, “it grows you as a human being to have empathy and apathy for someone who doesn’t look like you and is culturally not from your background,” he said to thunderous applause.
“Speaking of people who are not from your cultural background, you're 'Feeling the Bern;' you like Bernie Sanders,” Colbert stated. “Tell me why you believe Bernie's the man.”
Dr. (Martin Luther) King, in his last two years of life, talked about a poor people's campaign, organizing unions on the behalf of poor workers, organizing against the war machine that was perpetuating violence in Vietnam.
Bernie Sanders is the only politician who has consistently, for 50 years, taken that social justice platform into politics. And right now, we have an opportunity to elect someone who is directly out of the philosophy of King-ian non-violence.
“We can directly elect someone that cares about poor people; cares about women, gay, black rights; cares about lives that don’t look like his,” the black activist noted. “If we don't take this opportunity right now, we're going to be sitting around a campfire, mad because they nuked the world to hell.”
“I hope that doesn't happen,” Colbert asserted as he concluded the interview.
It's too bad the liberal host didn't ask Killer Mike which candidates he thought would actually “nuke the world.” That would have been an interesting list.