Though his lyrics have always contained astute social commentary wrapped in biting wit, in the past couple of years, Killer Mike has become a respected voice on race in America. The Run the Jewels rapper speaks passionately in particular on Black America's conflicted relationship with law enforcement because, as the son of a police officer, he's seen the conflict from both sides.
Most recently, Mike penned a powerful op-ed on the Baltimore Uprising for Billboard. Framing it with his attendance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, where he rubbed elbows with politicians and journalists at the same time the riots in Baltimore began, he writes about his distrust for the mainstream news media.
He called out, in particular, Wolf Blitzer and Geraldo Rivera, who he says he's watched "pander to the audiences of oppression on TV." Mike says he would decline any opportunity to shake hands with them. "Not because they’re evil and bad people," he clarifies, "but because they’re players in the game that sensationalizes and objectifies this in the worst ways. I don’t trust they that they want to see the change."
As for the Black community's complex relationship with law enforcement, he says, "we need police — everyone knows that, and I don’t have a problem with them. I do have a problem with a culture that uses illegal roadblocks to search Americans."
Mike offers words of hope and a little advice for the protesters. "For the people of Baltimore — I don’t criticize rioting because I understand it," he says. "But after the fires die down: organize, strategize and mobilize. Like Ferguson, you have an opportunity to start anew. I don’t have a solution because whoever’s there will have to come up with it. But we need community relations: riots are the language of the unheard."
The outspoken rapper ends his piece with a thought he says he had on his way home from the dinner. "I could not help but wonder if this country will ever truly be what is promised in our Constitution for people who look like me," he writes.
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(Photo: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)