Last Thursday, David Banner joined a growing list of artists who have come out for the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests in downtown New York. Trailed by a crew from MTV News, Banner said it was important to stand with the people and for hip hop as a genre to do a better job of distinguishing itself as an outlet for grassroots movements.
"One of my only criticisms of hip hop right now is that we all — like everybody — we can't separate ourselves. All of us have become so corporate that people don't even feel like we're a part of the people, especially rappers and punk rockers," he said. "People always felt like we were them. We were their voice. You look at what happened with Troy [Davis]. We're still at war, we're in a recession--where's that in the music? I don't hear that in the music," he said.
During his visit to the protest site at Zuccotti Park, Banner said he was happy to blend in with the crowd and soak up the spirit of the movement, which has been critical of corporate excess.
"For me, to see Americans fight is something that I'm so very proud of," Banner said. "Whether I speak or am on camera or not really don't matter to me. I wanna watch, I wanna be a part of, I wanna feel.”
Addressing the issue that the majority of Occupy Wall Street protesters are white, Banner suggested that young white people are an important component of any social protest, and that race was not the primary issue.
"They'd just send the police out there, throw some tear gas, plant somebody in there," he said of a hypothetical minority-driven version of the protests. "Call it gang violence, whatever, y'all know what they do in the 'hood. When their children are out there is when it becomes a movement. And I used to fight that and be mad at that, but what we got to understand is, in every movement, even in the '60s, young, white, middle-class people were a major part of the movement. We have to stop separating ourselves."
Previously, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Russell Simmons and others have shown up at Occupy Wall Street, which has been going on for over a month. Last weekend, Raheem DeVaughn and Cornel West were arrested while demonstrating at an offshoot in Washington D.C.
(Photo: John Ricard / BET)