Friday, June 17, 2011

Russell Simmons x Lupe Fiasco Have A Discussion [Part 2]

Lupe Fiasco: "We Actually Have The Blood On Our Hands" [Part 2]

After yesterday's tremendous response to the part one of my conversation with the gifted Lupe Fiasco, I now present to you part two.  Look forward to your comments:
Lupe: But I think, you know to be honest like for me I think that the conversation is the issue that I’ve always had with America. To me the American government is second or third in the context of it. The corporations are definitely second but the people are first. I think the people have to understand that they’re conducive, that we actually have the blood on our hands. As much as we try to put that off on the politics or the politicians or the corporations or the military, we’re conducive on it because we silently agreed to it. Then we actively finance it because we pay taxes. So I always said that voting is cool. It’s theater but the actual meat and potatoes and the reality of it is you pay taxes and your taxes finance those drones and pay for that foreign policy and pay for the research programs and pay for all that stuff for international diplomacy and blah blah blah. So I think that the education I think that needs to be had and the idea that the alternative is worse I don’t necessarily agree with that. I believe that when you look at Obama I think it’s even worse-er because people idealize him to be better and you have better doing the same as the worse. It’s almost doubley worse because you’re supposed to be the guiding light, you’re supposed to be the guy. No matter what people thought of you… the only reason I agreed with Obama was because he was black but I had no any type of inkling that he would be any different from any politician for one he was trained in the Chicago machine which is the most corrupt political entity on Earth. When you come down to the nuts and bolts we have two consecutive governors one is in prison right now the other they’re deliberating his future right now in one of the courts in Chicago and Obama comes from that world. I already knew from stand up that it was basic politics but the only reason I agreed with it is because he was a black man. With him being a black man I immediately held him to a standard of other black presidents. I immediately held him up to the standard of Robert Mugabe and the better which was Nelson Mandela. If you’re gonna be a black president and you’re gonna stand up for something and you’re gonna stand up for the oppression and the quiet oppression that exists in the U.S. then you need to be like Nelson Mandela.

If you’re not stepping in the wave and fighting the fight that Nelson Mandela fought as it relates to the United States of America and the oppressed people here whether they’re white, black, Asian what have you and how we are the big stick in the world and how that relates to our domestic policy and domestic education relates to our foreign policy and the way we treat the rest of the world then I can’t rock with you. He doesn’t really have a polarity to me he doesn’t really have negatives and positives to me other than that he’s black and he’s black but I also have Nelson Mandela as somebody who looked back toward oppression and so to be a president and stands up and becomes an international figure and wins Nobel Peace Prizes. You can’t win the Nobel Peace Prize and then do a surge in Afghanistan. You can’t do that. The one thing that I respected George Bush for is that Bush was a gangster and he did what he said he was gonna do – go kill the dude that tried to kill his daddy and that’s why I respect him. I don’t honor him but I respect him. It’s the same thing with Barack Obama. I respect you because you’re black and we came from the same place and the only reason that we’re here is because we’re slaves. Well not him particularly because he can trace his roots back to Kenya and his mother was white but for me, the black man in America, the only reason I’m here is because I’m a slave. My ancestors were slaves. I don’t want to rehash the history but just from my political understanding I don’t look at the alternative as worse I look at what the alternative needs to be is the people.

Russell: Now see the only thing I take exception to is that you’re a little bit of an idealist by saying that and something that’s not practical about that in my opinion I just left a prison just now. I left a prison yesterday as well. I’m speaking to the prisoners. I’m fighting for prison reform. Half those people who are in there are for drugs. Some of those kids lack opportunity, education, all these problems. You say the battleground is the budget it’s the president’s rap right now and on the surface it sounds okay. If somebody’s gonna cut education in the inner city where you have 80 kids in a class in Detroit. If you can’t subsidize that by taking some out of the army, some little bit out of the army… the mother who’s a teacher and the father who’s a cop are sending their kids to a school with 80 kids and that kid’s not gonna graduate because only 46 or 48 percent of those kids are gonna graduate anyway so now we know they ain’t gonna graduate. A middle class loses the battle to survive and continue to have a middle class black family. If they don’t address that, if there’s no subsidies for those educations then no matter how corrupt or backward the machine in Detroit they’re gonna need some money so they can make those classes back to the sizes they were and 46% of the boy will graduate out of school instead of 28 or whatever. So little things matter a little bit and it’s a little bit idealistic.

Lupe: Well so you just don’t think I’m a pure subjective person, to add some objectivity to my statement, to my thought process I consciously battle against the ideal versus the real and you have to have both they dance together but the reality of the situation is, the pure reality, is that if we really wanted to educate then we would. There’s no reason why the Harvard canon of books. Whatever black lawyer or black doctor that you know many of and I know many of or a professor or a graduate who read a specific set of books in Harvard or a freshman course in Harvard there’s no reason that those books, the same books that they read, that a regular person in the hood shouldn’t have access to those same books and those same canons. I asked Professor Cornell West I said give me your list of books that you teach in your class, and it’s the same books that you can get at the library and anywhere else, so I can have same amount of intensity of education and the way that you structure your courses so I can go to the people who are never gonna have it who go to the second class or third class high school or even the kids who… are at the high school where they only come to school to go to lunch…

How do we supersede that? How do we go past waiting on a subsidy in a school system that’s archaic and that’s broken? Your schools were made to send people into a manufacturing world that which no longer exists and that’s still teaching that. So even those kids who are in those schools in Detroit are being trained in a system that’s 60 years past its time. So even when they do come out they’re cut off at the legs because the education that they’re getting is archaic compared to the rest of the modern world. So how do we supersede that in my own way? So if it's about education and about books and about critical thinking then give me the canon and I’ll go buy those books. Lupe will go buy those books and I will go set up a reading program and all the kids who are willing, because there has to be a willingness as well from the actual individual, those who are willing to come on and understand this and take pride in this and take advantage and supplement the education that they’re getting with this higher level of education because it’s really just reading and writing then let’s do that. That’s assistance too. That’s gonna happen whether it’s a Republican, a Democrat or an anarchist in the White House. I’m gonna do that regardless.

So when I say “the people” I’m talking about you, me, Barack Obama, people doing things that may have to (require) sacrifice financially but for the most part it’s not even that much of a financial detriment in comparison to what we spend just on waste or what we spend on phone bills or on cable bills and for stuff that we really don’t need if you really look at the cost of it and how much you can actually get for free if you actually just go out and do it. And give people access to the things they can really use as opposed to giving them access to things that we think they use which is in itself is an ideal. I was just watching CSPAN last night for four hours me and my mother watching them debate the cuts they were taking out of the 2012 bill for agriculture and food safety and you should’ve seen the programs they were hacking out of there just on a whim. One minute we want 1 million dollars for this and 2 million dollars for this and well nah at the end of the day they didn’t care about food stamps they didn’t care about people hungry the word of line from the politicos and politicians there was that we don’t have the money. Like “we don’t have this we’re a broke government, we need to supplement this with spending” it was always some ideology about the government and patriotism and of the American Dream and things that don’t really exist. So for me even though I stress these high minded ideals its backed up and based on practices and tested in reality. You know I’ve been to Detroit I’ve been to the high schools. I went to the gangstas and crack sellers in Detroit and politicking and trying to learn from everybody so I can have that ideal and that reality and what I’ve learned in my studies and my travels around this world is that there’s certain things that you just can’t wait on. You can’t wait on Obama you can’t wait til the next election because now we’re in election mode. Obama is trying to raise a billion dollars for his next election. Like dog why are you even shooting commercials when you could be taking 10% of that billion dollars that you’re trying to just give right back to CBS and give right back to ABC. Why don’t you give $100 million to Detroit? But he’s not gonna do that so those things, those kind of hypocrisies are the face of what’s going on. Look at the system a really different way because that’s $1 billion real dollars that’s not idea dollars. The only reason he went to Puerto Rico whatever the political, get the Puerto Ricans on the mainland to vote, he raised a million dollars while he was there! For four hours he went and did an event, a fundraiser at a hotel in Puerto Rico and got a million dollars for his campaign! I guarantee you he did not take that million dollars which he got a check for at the end of the night before he jumped on a plane and went to wherever he went, I bet you he did not go to the barrios in Puerto Rico and say “hey here’s some books! Here’s a million dollars to go pay for this or pay for that” which he can because that’s his money going to his campaign not going to government not going to anywhere else. I agree with what you’re saying you can’t be completely idealistic but at the same time you can’t negate the reality of the situation that we’re living in.

Russell: Listen it’s gonna take education and it’s gonna take individuals like you who are gonna point out hypocrisies and its gonna take people who are educated and sophisticated about our policies to change them or to fight against the corporate influences in different cases and there’ll be presidents who are gonna need people who push them to do some of the right things and make some shifts and limit the lobbyists’ power and all of these things so your voice is an important one in this way. I just want to make sure that when I frame this I frame this as you are a patriot trying to fix your country. And that you see these things, and as an artist if you don’t point them out then you aren’t a true artist. You want to tell the truth and so these truths that come out of your mouth and come from your experiences and your perceptions. Some people will be very optimistic and try to make sure that we get the best of the choices available and they’ll just say that the world is flawed just like we know there’s suffering, there’s corruption. But they’re gonna try to be optimistic about it and try to push for the President. At the end of the day you make this country better and your words make this country better and also remind me to think and don’t let the surface blow me over because all the things that you say that are true that standout have to be part of the dialogue and we cannot ignore the suffering we’ve caused and the footprint we have or the abuse we’re promoting when we are. But at the same time that optimistic guy who wants to make sure that we have the best choice and know that it’s an imperfect world. The best thing I think we can do right now is make sure your voice is heard and make sure black people vote and I still believe black people should vote and every progressive voice should hear everything you said and digest every word. I appreciate you and your time.

Lupe: Thank you.


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