While appearing on The Breakfast Club to promote his new show Trigger Warning, Killer Mike got in a heated debate over public schools with DJ Envy.
The seemingly unlikely conversation on education began from a discussion on the importance of supporting each other in our communities. A sentiment we can all agree with, Killer Mike emphasized building Black and buying Black. In recent years, the rapper has promoted the purchase of stocks and real estate, along with developing financial knowledge to extend the community lifespan of Black currency. The conversation had a positive tone, but things shifted when the topic moved to education.
Black Educators Empower
Angela Yee asked Killer Mike how he navigates his children’s educations at institutions where there are hardly any Black children. Proudly, he shared they attend public school surrounded by Black students and educators. This brought Killer Mike to recall his youth.
“I went to a school named Collier Heights Elementary School. You guys can Google Collier Heights, it’s a nationally recognized neighborhood; Black people gentrified this neighborhood from poor white people. [They] sent the poor white people on out to Cobb County and Mableton. They gentrified it. Everybody lived in this neighborhood, from working class Blacks like my grandparents to Dr. [Martin Luther] King’s parents to former [Georgia House Of Representatives member] Billy McKinney. This school was a great school because rich Black people lived in my neighborhood too. So, I was afforded a great education. I then went on to Frederick Douglass High School; Frederick Douglass was the greatest abolitionist of the 19th century [and] the most photographed person of the 19th century. So essentially, I’m talking about the Barack Obama of his time”.
Killer Mike declared the pride and confidence he has comes from attending schools named from several “Black educators and emancipators”. Noting that seventy-percent of the schools in Atlanta are named for such, he said, “I don’t care if I was a C-student, I had a sense of pride that most Black children didn’t have because they were not in a circle of pride.” Like many of us experienced, his educators also attempted to rally greatness from him by using the same anecdotal cliché of an “imaginary group of White kids” that pose significant competition. He commented that the weight of it all gave him purpose and thus, prepared him for future dissension.
“So, by the time I met White children, I was an equal. You can’t tell me my skin look like poo. ‘Why y’all skin look like bird-poo? What you talkin’ ‘bout, lame?’ I was already prepared. What I wasn’t was unconfident.”
There is Value in Public Education
When it came to real estate, Killer Mike admits his first purchases were businesses. He recalled comedic legend Dick Gregory took offense to that. At the time he had not fathomed the value in establishing community centric education facilities. Hammering the importance of education, he said upon meeting the multi-faceted activist, Gregory chastised him for not taking initiative.
“I own a third of a block in Atlanta! The second block next to me was bought by five white people who didn’t even know each other, and they started a Montessori school within three months! N*gga, do something! I used to wonder to myself why is Dick Gregory so mad, he cussed me and Tip (T.I.) out the first time we met him. He said, ‘What y’all n*ggas gon’ do? March? The same sh*t we been doing for 50 years? They gon’ tell you to march, you gotta be off the street by 7 o’clock. If you ain’t out, we gon’ kill you.’ The schools seem better because we’re buying into that. Why are we not starting our own academies and supporting them? Why are we not supporting historically Black colleges and universities?’”
Redlining Internalized Prejudices
Unlike Killer Mike, Charlamagne and DJ Envy send their children to predominantly White private institutions. Believing educations from private schools are more valuable in the long run, Envy just couldn’t see the merit in attending a public institution. He noted the opportunities he received via school name recognition and choice curriculum were incredibly superior when compared to what public schools offered. Envy added while his children attend private schools, they still play sports in predominantly Black areas. Killer Mike was not impressed with DJ Envy’s rebuttal and neither am I.
Blackness = Greatness
“With all the great education you got, you turned out to be a DJ and a real estate investor.” Insisting he wasn’t reading him, Killer Mike explained they both forged careers from the investment of their talents. Still, he was perplexed why someone who admits their children have been on the receiving end of racial slurs would not opt to send them to predominantly Black institutions or HBCUs.
“Either you’re going to choose to be excellent and you’re going to do better, or you gon’ sit your chump ass down and you’re going to keep being the same sh*t over and over. But you can’t complain and say that greatness was not given to you. If you walk in a school named Frederick Douglass High School and you do not have the initiative as a parent, or as a student, to walk up and step up to that greatness, but you’ll do it at St. Pious? You’ll do it at St. Michael? Man, you’re a chump.”
Feeling attacked by the truth of Killer Mike’s statements, DJ Envy was unable to see the overall problem: What are we doing to ensure that working class children are given access to the same education and confidence as the wealthy?
There is no short supply of greatness in Black communities, but there is indeed a desert of investment. We will make no progress so long as we have public figures like DJ Envy who reinforce the dated notion that PWIs set the standard for success. Without continuing discussion and providing support for Black educators and HBCUs, we will see the importance and attendance of such institutions decline right along with the condition of public schools.
Killer Mike won, period.
With Integrity, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid Settle NFL Collusion Case
Without folding to the organization’s superiors, Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have emerged victorious, proving you can maintain your integrity and still be successful.
Just two days after Steve Harvey “coached” Mo’Nique on the benefits of placating industry elites and putting integrity aside for money, Colin Kaepernick’s attorney made an unexpected announcement. The athlete-turned-activist has settled his suit against the NFL over collusion to keep him out of the league.
Answering Injustice with Justice
Following National Anthem protests to bring awareness to injustices that oppress Black people and other people of color, the NFL punished Kaepernick. The league left him unsigned through the off-season and through 2017 training camps. This led to speculation that his departure from the league would be permanent and was caused by being blackballed.
In 2017, Eric Reid filed a grievance letter with the NFL. The letter alleged that under the influence of Donald Trump, the league conspired to prevent further employment opportunities because Reid was the second person to participate in National Anthem protests. Kaepernick and Reid shared the same legal representation during their similar cases. However, Reid remained employed and suffered several mandatory drug tests with 7 occurring during the 2018 season alone.
Nearly two-and-a-half years removed from the initial incident, Kaepernick and Reid’s agreement with the NFL has been reached, but with certain terms. In a joint statement issued by their legal representation, both Kaepernick and Reid are subject to a confidentiality agreement which demands no further comment on the issue.
As of now, no one knows the amount either of the former teammates has been paid to settle their dispute. However, sports experts are speculating Kaepernick was paid within the range of $60 to $80 million for lost wages. Regarding what he will do with his earnings, Kaepernick has been committed to activism across the country. His Million Dollar Pledge has concluded, but the athlete remains invested in the Know Your Rights Camp, which he founded in 2016. The free campaign was established to raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and proper law enforcement interaction in various scenarios.
Now that Kaepernick and Reid have settled their dispute, do you think Kaepernick should return to football? Or should he remain focused on activism and philanthropy?
Dapper Dan Meets With Gucci, Develops Inclusion Action Plan
Following the celebrity supported Gucci boycott, Dapper Dan met with the brand to discuss diversity, inclusion, and accountability. Their meeting concluded, the cultural icon of hip-hop fashion design plans to hold all fashion houses accountable for diversity and inclusivity within their respective brands.
Daniel “Dapper Dan” Day, along with a team of experts, approached Gucci with demands that the fashion house acts in the best interest of underrepresented groups. Comprised of ninety percent people of color, the team of corporate experts sat down with Gucci executives to develop a long-term action plan to make amends for a racially-insensitive balaclava design.
The $890 sweater featured a balaclava that, when extended, covered the wearer and mimicked blackface. Causing an immediate social media uproar, Gucci removed the sweater and acknowledged their mistake. Dapper Dan, who frequently used the brands imagery while establishing himself as a hip-hop couturier, was taken aback.
In 2017, recognition from Jay-Z and Black Twitter earned Dap a partnership with the luxury clothier. Dapper Dan partnered with Gucci’s CEO and creative director to develop a line of men’s wear. Ultimately, this resulted in a new atelier which opened in Harlem in 2018, making Dapper Dan of Harlem the first luxury fashion house in the Manhattan neighborhood. Still, this history of partnership and accomplishment did not muddy Dan’s feelings about Gucci’s despicable error.
Pledging to hold the brand accountable for their error, Dapper Dan and the corporate elite met with Gucci and discussed how the brand planned to atone for their cultural ignorance. Upon news of his meeting, celebrities who were participating in the boycott took to social media to share their discontentment. This prompted Dapper Dan to release a statement in defense of his meeting. He checked the culture on their disposal of Black fashion brands along with acknowledging the lack of opportunity for aspiring designers.
We have to LEARN TO EARN. What happened to all the Black fashion brands that failed since the ’80s? Was it because they didn’t get Black support, or was it because they didn’t know the business? Do you expect our young Black designers to spend 30+ years mastering fashion by teaching themselves as I did? How do you expect them to compete with the big brands if they don’t REALLY know the business? They need jobs and internships within these big brands so that they can learn and then branch out on their own.
We Must Hold Everyone Accountable
Addressing the opposition, Dapper Dan remarked that those who wanted to continue to boycott were free to do as they pleased. Before ending his statement, he added, “if anyone should be boycotted, it’s the brands that won’t give our young people an opportunity to learn. In an additional Instagram post featuring Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Jay-Z, Dapper Dan called out artists who purchased clothes on credit and then never patronized his business again once they achieved fame. Both the athlete and rapper-turned-business-mogul were integral in Dan’s reestablishment process after other luxury brands robbed him of his designs.
Insisting we must not only hold the brands accountable, but we must have a plan of action to amend the mistake and move forward, Dapper Dan invited Gucci to join the 21st century with new diversity and inclusivity policies. Their meeting, facilitated by a round-table of nearly ninety percent people of color, birthed an action plan for immediate implementation. Following the conclusion of their meeting, Gucci released a statement apologizing and outlining their long-term action plan to address culture and diversity awareness in the company.
Mediation, Resolution, Progress
Several key points of their intended plan include the creation of several jobs for global and regional directors for diversity and inclusion, a global learning program for diversity and inclusivity awareness, and a global exchange program. The company is also committing to a multi-cultural design scholarship. The 12-month fast track program, which partners with fashion schools, will amplify opportunities to underrepresented groups which will lead to full-time employment. Schools of focus for the scholarship are in New York (Harlem), Nairobi, New Delhi, Beijing, Hangzhou, Seoul, Tokyo, Beirut, London, and Dubai.
These immediate actions were developed with Dapper Dan, expert industry leaders, and Marco Bizzarri, Gucci’s current President and CEO. While many hold the ideology that you should not applaud a fish for swimming, it is important to remember that Gucci’s efforts are far above and beyond other companies, i.e. H&M.
Following H&M’s disastrous “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle” debacle, the company hired just two diversity leaders for their Global and North American markets and issued a public apology. The company has been unable to recover from their mistake which caused The Weeknd and G-Eazy to reject collaboration opportunities. One-year removed from their failure, H&M has recently announced 160 store closings worldwide.
Given Gucci’s response to their racist design and proposals for improvement, will you continue to boycott?
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