The Roots’ ?uestlove was recently featured on Democracy Now! in an hour-long program that addressed a slew of issues.
The first subject that ?uesto touched on was racial profiling, a discussion that began with a recollection of the first time he was ever pulled over by police.
The incident began as a routine trip to the record store. “There was a point where I was coming home from Bible study,” he explained. “Like teen Bible study, on a Friday night. There was a Tower Records on South Street, and a friend of mine wanted to purchase U2’s The Joshua Tree album, which just came out. They were coming to Philly at RFK’s stadium, so you wanted to study the record and know all the material before they came, so we went and purchased The Joshua Tree.”
Soon after departing from the store, things took a turn for the worse. “We were driving home, and then, seconds later, on Washington Avenue in Philly, a cop stopped us, and he was holding a gun on us. There’s nothing like the first time that a gun is held on you. We’re sixteen, mind you. Sixteen, seventeen years old. And I just remember the protocol. I remember my father telling me, ‘If you’re ever in this position, you just slowly keep your hands up.’ He did it in sort of a humorous way that Richard Pryor did… My friends didn’t know that, so they just thought it was normal, and I was like, ‘Yo, get your hands up! Get your hands up!'”
“How I knew that was the protocol at such a young age, that’s probably sad commentary. It was also a matter of survival,” he added, somberly.
The discussion naturally shifted to the recent ruling by a federal judge who held that the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy was unconstitutional, as it unfairly targeted Black and Hispanic communities.
“I was utterly shocked. That’s something that just came out of left field, because I, too, was wondering…will stop-and-frisk just be a way of life? Just two, three weeks ago, I wasn’t frisked, but I definitely know that I was stopped for unknown reasons, that I was just the wrong person in the wrong automobile. I get stopped all the time.”
Watch the interview below:
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