Ferguson, Missouri, freedom fighters stopped by the Rolling Stone offices in New York City to discuss the ongoing climate in their town with regards to the strained relations between its residents and law enforcement. Millennial Activists United Co-creator Ashley Yates (pictured right), local hip-hop artists T-Dubb-O (pictured left) and Tef Poe (pictured center), and Tory Russell (not pictured), cofounder of Hands Up United were all part of the conversation. The young activists also went in on how many Black celebrities have chosen not to join them in the trenches and have not let their voices be heard in the with regards to the killing of Black teen Michael Brown (pictured in cap and gown below), who was brutally gunned down by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson last summer. The candid and hard-hitting interview was captured on video.
In the video, Yates speaks to the deep divide in Ferguson that highlights blatantly obvious systemic inequalities. “We’re not vying for political capital. We’re not vying for a political position in the world to say, ‘Let us vote, or let us have this,’” she said. “What we’re vying for is actually our lives. So our level of commitment is what you would do to fight for your life.”
T-Dubb O then sheds a disturbing light on how many Black celebrities have instead chosen to remain silent, not bothering to help dispel the belief that every Black body poses a threat. Yates is taking our Black celebs to task for just sitting back and not addressing the pervasiveness of unconscious biases, not working to reduce them, and not ceasing a moment to help remove the structural barriers that surrounds towns like Ferguson–particularly since they are now under an international lens.
“We got all these Black athletes, Black rappers, all these one-percents, record label owners, CEOs that’s not saying nothing, that’s not bringing nothing to the community. You’re bleeding the community dry,” he contends. “The shoes we buy, the clothes we buy, the music we play, the videos we watch. You glorify being from the hood, but [you] do nothing for it. You glorify being from the trenches, but do nothing for it. When they killing us, you stand by silent when you have this platform…we don’t have a Rolling Stone in St. Louis we can go to.”
He added, “You get invited to these interviews daily, and you quiet. You quiet. You still on your tours, you still dropping your bullshit records that nobody believe. The streets don’t believe you.”
Watch the compelling interview here.