Interview: Talib Kweli Talks Michael Brown And Police Brutality In The Social Media Age


Talib Kweli has something to say. Since last weekend’s shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Mo. police officer, Kweli’s Twitter account has been overflowing with encouraging sentiments and revolutionary regards.

The vocal Brooklyn-bred rapper has never been one to shy away from issues affecting the community. Last year, Kweli joined Florida’s Dream Defenders in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder as they rallied to reform state legislation that criminalized youth of color. His music has also served as a platform to reflect upon widespread injustices through rhyme. VIBE caught up with the self-proclaimed prisoner of conscious at an UGG Australia event in Manhattan, to chat about the recent events in Ferguson that are captivating our nation. Check out his thoughts below. —Christopher Harris

On police brutality in the social media age: Police brutality is something that comes with the war on poverty, oppression of poor people, oppression of people of color, and capitalism. It’s something that is an unavoidable byproduct. I don’t necessarily feel police brutality is getting worse because it’s always been horribly bad. With this new era—with Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and all the names that we can name—we’re starting to see a connection, because these things are played out through conversations on social media. With Eric Garner and Michael Brown, these are things that we have multiple witnesses and people able to give us first-hand experiences on the ground when it’s happening because of the innovations of technology. Because of social media we’re able to participate in these moments as a national or international community, as opposed to them being isolated. Because we’re able to share the information more quickly it’s now become a story. This happens in our hoods everyday but now we’re able to connect the dots a little bit more. So, if you’re somebody who cares or has any type of compassion and wants to see things like that change, you now have the opportunity to connect with like-minded people and do something about it. It’s easier now to spread and to receive information. Now as a community we’re more responsible to hold our police and our government more accountable.

On the hip-hop community’s responsibility to address police brutality: Every aspect of our community has a responsibility. Sometimes people think that because artists have a larger platform that they have a responsibility to speak on topics; I don’t necessarily agree with that. People who have the knowledge have the responsibility to speak. From what I can see, artists, celebrities and entertainers who do have the knowledge, when you see them in the press they are speaking about it. But some of these people are babies in the woods and they don’t have the information or knowhow to speak about certain topics, so you just give focus on those who do.