Rappers have always been vocal and active on issues concerning the black community. With the current racial tensions, resulting from the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police, emcees, once again, are using their influence to have a much-needed conversation on solutions to quell police brutality here in America.
Brooklyn rapper and host of SiriusXM’s Hip-Hop Nation’s The Tor Guide, Torae, also took to the streets of New York City to join in on the protest on July 7.
“Tensions were high. I was very angry, I was hurt, I was mad, so many emotions running through me at that time. And the cops came, and they didn’t do anything to diffuse that situation. They came fighting fire with fire. They grabbed this girl, threw her down, yelling ‘get out the street.’ Torae said.
He continued, “I was ready to rush. And I thank God that I wasn’t out there with a bunch of people that I knew, because I know they got me. If I throw a punch or a bottle they riding—and I’m not condoning it, saying that was the right thought. But the only thing that kept me sane was in a split second I thought about my kids. I was a split second away from changing my future forever.”
Vibe took a trip over to SiriusXM’s studios to speak with Torae about some possible solutions to end police attacks on black lives. During the nearly hour-long sit-down, The “Coney Island’s Finest” rapper also shared his thoughts and opinions on issues like racism, blacks becoming police, and much more.
VIBE: What are you feeling right now?
Torae: It’s the most pressing thing on my mind. I guess that’s a good and a bad thing. The fact that it’s so prevalent in my conscious throughout the course of the day until I go to sleep, that means that I got to do something. This isn’t going to be a case where time passes and people move on and get back into their regular routine. I think in the last days the world has jilted things to a degree where people are going to get active. People are going to really understand that this stuff is not going to stop or slow up until we do something.
I find it hard to focus on my daily activities. And like you I’m hurt, angry, and clueless on how I can help.
I almost feel guilty if I have fun. This isn’t the time to have fun. This ain’t the time to go shopping. Nah, everyday is: “What am I’m going to do?” Everyday is looking at the man in the mirror like: ‘Yo, what are we doing? How are we organizing? How are we getting the people together? How are we being self-critical?” My thing is, it starts in the mirror. Take it out the mirror and bring it right into your living room. Bring it out your living room, and then bring it out to your block. And then get the whole borough involved and then get the city.
Statistically, many cops are uneducated. Everyone knows that there’s a direct link between violence, crime and a lack of education. And if you throw in the racism factor, as we see, it’s a disaster.
There needs to be a complete overhaul and reform in the way cops are trained and the level of education they have. There needs to be re-training and re-education in the job. These jobs shouldn’t be able to hide behind unions. They know they’re protected by all these laws and bylaws and unions. And for people who have to have direct interaction with the community on a daily basis it needs to be constant training, constant conversation. And another thing is we need to have more officers from these communities and neighborhoods.
It’s about to get VERY REAL in these streets. Don’t say it’s unwarranted, don’t say I’m being irresponsible. Say we’re tired of being MURDERED. Say we’re tired of protests & hashtag. This shit is all out war on people of color. Don’t be surprised when we retaliate. ?🏾
A photo posted by Torae (@torae) on
Not too many cats from the ‘hood want to be cops, though.
That’s the catch 22, because we don’t fu*k with the cops, so the last thing on earth I want to be is a cop, because of what it’s been to us for so long. But at the same time we need you to be a cop, because you understand the landscape. That kid that got killed in East New York might not have gotten killed had that cop been from that community because he wouldn’t have been so nervous when he heard every little thing. We run up and down the stairs all day, so we know that’s just the door closing. That’s the way it sounds. But we have to find a common ground. And people can’t be afraid to do XYZ. And, if you see your brother doing some sh*t you have to call him out on it: “Yo, listen this is why it’s hot. You want the cops to come in here and shoot the sh*t up? Then you got to stop.’
I don’t really see racism ending for several reasons. But the main reason is because I don’t foresee the people in power being man enough to admit that they are racists. What about you?
I can’t honestly say yes to that because we all—whether we want admit it or not—have these prejudices and stereotypes ingrained in us. So, I see a little kid walking in the store with his mother, I’m like: ‘Oh, he about to start acting a fool, cursing; “Momma I want a fu*king cookie.”’ And that kid might not do it. It’s just a stereotype that’s been ingrained. And that doesn’t dictate how I treat them, but it’s something in my mind. It’s like when an older woman gets on the elevator with me, or walks past me, she might hold her pocketbook a little tight. It doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s prejudice. It’s just that some of these stereotypes have been programed in us for so long that it’s part of our thought process.
I’m big on education, and reading. I think that if kids, especially white people, had an unbiased teaching on history, and politics it would spur some deep thought about race relations and they could see for themselves that racism is just as much political as it is ignorance and deeply rooted hate.
It starts as we were kids. The way we were taught American history in school. We were taught that we were inferior from the jump. When you open up these textbooks and you see George Washington did this, Abraham Lincoln did this, Christopher Columbus did this, and you guys were slaves, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, and that’s it. We never learned about any black people being contributors to this country, the culture, to build this place up. We were not taught about any of our involvement in a positive light.
Did you see what Rudy Giuliani said about black parents and black on black crime?
So, Giuliani said: “If I were a black father I would warn my son to be very careful with the kids in the neighborhood, and not to get involved with them, son. There’s a 99 percent chance they’re going to kill you, not the police. The real danger to them: 99 out of a 100 times other black kids are going to kill them.”
I screen shotted this on my phone so I’ll have it. The actual statistic that they followed that up with was: the closest estimate to Giuliani’s fictitious numbers is the FBI’s 2014 homicide data is blacks are killed by other black people 90 percent of the time. The rate on white homicide is not that far behind at 82 percent of the time.” So, all this tells me is that you kill who you’re around. I’m not going to kill a bunch of white people if I go on a shooting spree in my neighborhood because that’s not who’s around, that’s not who pissed me off. If you’re a fu*king murderer, regardless you’re going to kill people who you’re around. Rudy Giuliani is a fu*king idiot. It was so crazy to hear him say that. Just like the Italian Mafia, whom did they kill? Other Italians. Who do the Asians kill? Other Asians.
So, what are some solutions that you would suggest for blacks as a whole?
With whatever abilities that we have I want to personally build with my family and friends, and start to figure out how we can police our communities. I remember as kid we had tenant patrol. We had a group of four or five ladies, and they’d sit in the lobby and guess what? When them old ladies was there wasn’t no crack being sold. If you didn’t live in the building and didn’t have a key you wasn’t getting in that building. If you were going to visit someone you had to sign in. It was just a little bit of accountability. We have to police ourselves and hold ourselves accountable for the bullsh*t, because anyone can come in from the outside and come into our neighborhoods and say: ‘Yo, you doing it wrong, we’re here to clean it up.” You look at the Jewish community, they got there own police force, doctors, lawyers, and very seldom does any outsiders come in to rectify it. And if need be, it goes to a bigger place. And honestly, we don’t know what goes on in these communities, because they handled situations themselves.