Brother Ali recently shared his thoughts on racism when asked to shed light on the Trayvon Martin case. He also spoke about racism as an institution and the way that racism impacts quality of life.
“What we have is a 500-year-old legacy of African Americans being killed, particularly young men,” Brother Ali told HardknockTV. “It’s all people of color and it includes women too but there’s a specific thing about young Black men being murdered by people who say that they’re protecting us. They find a way to blame the victim.”
Ali then established how the Martin case is similar to Emmett Till’s murder in his eyes.
“They said Emmett Till whistled at a White woman. They say all of these things [like], ‘He did something he wasn’t supposed to be doing.’ And then they always find a way to let the killers go free under some weird little loophole in the law. This case is part of that. This case is part of that legacy. Racism is a killer. Racism is a serial killer.”
Ali, who released Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color last year, also spoke about how the “institution of slavery” has various other effects.
“Racism itself is an institution in our society,” he added. “Racism also exists in all of the institutions. We’re taught to think about racism in terms of one individual to another individual. You know? ‘Do I hate people who aren’t White? Do I say racial slurs and things like that?’ And if I can answer no to both of those questions, then I’m completely off the hook and everything is all good.’ And we say, ‘Well, there are racist people out there.’ We talk like there are certain individuals who are racists and as long as you stay away from those individuals, you’ll be fine. But the reality is that, not only is racism itself an institutional part of our society, but every important part of our society, we see racism, which is more than just bigotry, more than just prejudice, more than just people being rude to each other or hurting each other’s feelings. We’re talking about our structural barriers that hold extra challenges to people who are not White. If you look at the statistics, there seems to be a hierarchy. In a highly competitive society, those things benefit the people who aren’t held back by them. So in every major aspect of American life, in health care, employment, education, wealth and home ownership and in every way that we can gauge quality of life, we see that people of color have greater challenges and are not experiencing the quality of life that White people are.”
More on Brother Ali’s thoughts can be found below.
Emmett Till was murdered in 1955. He was 14 years of age. Till was killed after allegedly flirting with a White woman. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in 2012 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who deemed him suspicious. Zimmerman told authorities he fired his weapon in self-defense. Martin was unarmed. Other emcees have also commented on the case including Game and Mos Def.