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kottke.org posts about Michael Render

Run the Jewels’ Killer Mike Delivers an Emotional Plea

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 01, 2020

If you haven’t had a chance to watch this, it’s really worth your time. Rapper and activist Michael Render, aka Killer Mike of Run the Jewels, spoke at a press conference in Atlanta about the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the history of policing in the city, and his outrage, delivering a plea for the city’s residents to not “burn your own house down for anger with an enemy”.

I’m. Mad. As Hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn down yesterday, because I’m tired of seeing black men die. He casually put his knee on a human being’s neck for nine minutes as he died, like a zebra in the clutch of a lion’s jaw. And we watch like murder porn, over and over again.

So that’s why children are burning it to the ground. They don’t know what else to do. And it is the responsibility of us to make this better — right now. We don’t want to see one officer charged, we want to see four officers prosecuted and sentenced. We don’t want to see Targets burning, we want to see the system that sets up for systemic racism burnt to the ground.

Update: Although Killer Mike’s remarks have been widely praised (including by prominent members of the Black community like Lebron James), others in the Black community have condemned them. See Devyn Springer’s article in the Independent:

This weekend, as I watched T.I. share a stage with fellow rapper and landlord, Killer Mike, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, in an attempt to disparage the righteous Black rage in response to the police killing of George Floyd, I instantly knew we’ve entered a new era of Black sellouts that we must reckon with.

It’s interesting that the underlying message of Barack Obama’s recent post How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change is not substantially different than Killer Mike’s comments. That post was also widely shared and praised (though, conspicuously, not by many prominent Black activists), especially by White people. One of the reasons I shared the video of Killer Mike is that there is disagreement — real, non-cynical disagreement — within the Black community about how to best address and protest racism & oppression in the United States, and you can plainly hear that his feelings and motivations are complicated.