As the third and final piece to his series of open letters, Atlanta rapper, actor and activist T.I. has unveiled a message to American citizens, and more specifically, the Black community: “An Open Letter to US.”
Releasing the letter through Ebony magazine, T.I.P. explained that he felt the last of his series of open messages was pertinent to the Black community, but also all other individuals fighting against oppression. Clarifying that he doesn’t feel it’s “a race thing,” he expressed that he wanted the letter to reach all communities who are fighting for justice, freedom and rights under the current state of the nation.
“There are some white people riding with us just like it was in the cvil rights movement,” he said in the interview with Ebony that accompanied the letter. “It’s a community of people and it’s a cause that transcends race, gender, sexual orientation, social status.”
Beginning the letter with his expression of frustration for the Black community, he admits that he has found himself guilty of “some of the things that put us here” and feels compelled to address those things.
“You see we’ve somehow allowed ourselves to think it’s OK to neglect and abandon our responsibility to ourselves and to our community,” he writes. “Everything cannot be blamed on the system.”
T.I.P. said during the interview that in his lifetime, he had made mistakes that sunk him into a dark place, and through an epiphanous change of mentality, he was able to correct himself.
“I’m by no means a perfect human being,” he declared. “I experience more than half of my life perpetuating darkness. That was because I was dropped in a place of darkness and expected to find a way out.”
Though he doesn’t specifically point out where those moments of darkness stemmed from, he does touch on the community’s obligation to be accountable for each other and to not blind themselves of awareness of the world with materialism.
“We can no longer afford to be entertained beyond the point of accountability,” he writes in the letter. “We can’t keep selling each other out and be willing to do anything to be seen, to be famous or to be rich. Our obsession with material things and lack of self-worth is evident in our need for an abundance of momentary luxuries and must-have amenities that have no true value for real, man.”
Such thoughts on materialistic things must ring true in the Grand Hustle Records label boss’s eyes, however, as he added in the interview that the loss of sponsors or endorsements were the least of his worries following his newfound voice for social activism.
“Sponsors weren’t something I had to consider after my situation in 2010,” he said, recalling the September 2010 arrest of him and his wife, Tiny, for possession of controlled substances. “If you support me as a person, my personal and political views won’t alienate you. If you find a way to be turned off, that means you were never a fan in the first place. You were just riding the wave.”
Continuing to address himself and the role of the Black community in the current state of America, he calls to action other people of influence who have remained hushed in the social and political sphere, acknowledges his own privilege and platform and discusses how he connects to racial profiling from police and even being told from a schoolteacher that he would amount to nothing. Despite these things, however, the “Us or Else” rapper still demands action on everyone’s part.
“But even more important than knowing all these things, I know what it’s like to overcome ‘em,” he concludes. “Now, I know it’s not easy… but all of US can do something.”
Read the powerful call-to-action letter and interview from TIP in full here.
(Photo: Paras Griffin/BET/Getty Images for BET)