We need to educate ourselves. Love one another. I choose music and arts as my way of sharing that with the world.
We sat down with Theo to hear his thoughts on the current socio-political climate in the United States.
MC: Theo, the Million Man March was established initially to put black issues at the front of American politics. Some would argue that the Black Lives Matter movement has kept African American issues firmly in the spotlight. What do you think the benefits of having another Million Man March now will be?
TL: To an extent yes, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is helping keep the conversation going but that movement is a response to the unaddressed effects of slavery on all Americans, black and white. And still to this day Black Americans are faced with systematic racism in American culture. There is still a problem.
MC: The new name for the March; Justice or Else, how do you feel about that?
TL: I like it. Inequality and injustice is not up for debate. People can only take so much. And more and more are popping off.
MC: Do you feel like the “or Else” feels aggressive? Harkening back to the extreme rhetoric of a young Malcolm X? Even more so since you have a video where you highly resemble him.
TL: I do. In my new single, “Gotta Find a Way” I say, “You gotta take it if it’s yours. You’re a fool not to use force. American born. American bred.” That’s our culture. That’s America. Everything on this land was stolen. Lives are expendable. We have the right to be aggressive in our approach. But there is a coy way of being peaceful and aggressive. Firm and unified in a message.
It’s been swept under the rug. We don’t talk about it. We even erase it from our history books.
MC: Checking out the Justice or Else website, you will see some striking numbers: blacks have 2 times the unemployment rate. 60% of people in prison are Black or Latino. But the most striking is the timer they have until police kill another black person: 28 hours. What do you have to say to those who might question if the website ignores statistics about white murders by police officers?
TL: That’s not what the website is meant to be highlighting. At the end of the day, the black American people are suffering stigma, stereotypes, discrimination, and a second class view of American Freedom that has yet to be repented for. It’s been swept under the rug. We don’t talk about it. We even erase it from our history books.
MC: Tell me how you feel about The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan being the keynote at the March this year?
TL: Although Mr. Farrakhan has said and done some questionable things in the past, the man has evolved with the Civil rights movement and been a net force for justice. His tactics and he being a Muslim incites controversy because U.S. is predominately Christian, but our Bill of rights guarantees religious freedom as American citizens. That being said, I do not support violent, radical religious extremism.
MC: How do you think that he compares in the community to Martin Luther King, Jr? Will his presence be enough? Will it make the same impact that MLK’s speech did?
TL: We’re in a different time now. A lot of the leaders of the early civil rights movement aren’t with us anymore. And Farrakhan is still a strong voice in the community. He has seen civil rights emerge in this country from a time when it wasn’t a hashtag for hipsters.
MC: I know that you have become inspired by the I Have A Dream Speech. What topics found in that original speech do you think would be focused on today? Would anything be added to fit the current environment of African Americans?
TL: That speech is still very relevant today. If anything, to an even broader audience. Freedom and Equality. Now is the time! Honoring the nations creed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That all god’s children are created equal. We’re still evolving into those words. We’re a young nation. But there is a lot we need to repent for.
We fear what we don’t understand.
MC: The movement has Social media surrounding it. Instragram, twitter, facebook. You name it, the march has a presence on that particular forum. The role of social media has played a huge part in the Black Lives Matter movement, but it has also polarized many people on either side of it. Do you think social media is actually good for the movement? Tempers seem to flair without rational intercourse on the internet.
TL: Social media is what you use it for. We can share our lives. Our perspectives. We can also use it to manipulate each other. It’s like they want us divided. A lot of what I see I feel is fear tactics. Keeping everyone scared of one another. We fear what we don’t understand.
MC: Music has always been a huge part of black culture. Your music is focused on positivity and unification. How do you feel about the current state of hip-hop/r&b and how it contributes to the ideals that are being presented in the Justice or Else March?
TL: Hip-hop is a part of American culture. It was born out of the struggles of the Black American people. I use it as my platform. My podium. It’s not always used properly but I am hopeful when I see Artist like, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill speaking their truths. It’s liberating to everyone. It’s opens up the dialogue in an artistic peaceful manner. Cathartic.
MC: The March is going to be broadcast all over the world, not just the US. How does the black cause affect others on a global scale?
TL: Because It shows people unifying! So much of social media tries to show us people divided. Negative imagery. This is people of all creeds unifying. Civil rights are human rights. Inalienable rights.
There are a list of demands on the Justice or Else website:
WE want Justice for Blacks in America who have given America 460 years of sweat and blood to make her rich and powerful.
We want an immediate end to police brutality and mob attacks.
WE want Justice for the Native American Indians.
We want Justice for the Mexican and Latinos.
We want Justice for Women.
We want Justice for the Poor.
We want Justice for the Incarcerated.
We want Justice for Veterans.
We want Land
Along with that is the definition of justice:
1. “Justice is a principle of fair dealing one with another”
2. “Justice is the law that distinguishes between right and wrong”
3. “Justice is the weapon that Allah (God) will use in the Day of Judgment”
This is people of all creeds unifying. Civil rights are human rights. Inalienable rights.
MC: There is a statement on the site that says that “If we are denied what rightfully belongs to us, then there has to be unified action that we take that will force the justice that we seek.” What do you think that action should look like?
TL: The revolution will not be televised. It’s all a thought game. Misinformation. We need to educate ourselves. Love one another. I choose music and arts as my way of sharing that with the world.
Story by: TJ Young
Photos by : Alice Rabbit