In a recent interview on the with-all-due-respect segment of Bloomberg Politics, Wu-Tang Clan frontman Prince Rakeem Allah, AKA The RZA, spoke on #blacklivesmatter, police brutality, the black male image, Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election that some have praised and criticized him about. If you have not seen parts of this interview you can view it here: RZA Bloomberg Politics Interview.
With the growth and development of the Social Media Age, everyone now has a public figure platform. A platform where whatever we say or do can be held for or against us in a court of law and in the court of public opinion. I've seen people get arrested or fired from their jobs because of a Facebook status. I've seen companies loose money because of a video. I've watched celebrities get shunned because of a snapshotted tweet they tried to delete. Aside from net worth, there's a very thin line that separates celebrities from everyday people. At any given moment, you as an everyday person can end up going viral because of something and be catapulted into the national or even international spotlight. When this has happened, most are completely unprepared and this serves one lopsided purpose: the media's ratings, web traffic and analytics data that drives economic trends. One of the main concerns I've had and have worked to address is the lacking or non-existence of effective PR representation for black/brown people, and any group that's considered a minority, when we're engaging the mainstream media -especially celebrities. Whether it's LeBron James being asked about the Tamir Rice case and his response that he hasn't been on top of it, Young Thug's response to being asked about police brutality and even Dej Loaf saying she had no clue who Boss was when I interviewed her in Toronto, this unpreparedness coupled with a lack of PR representation is not working in our best interest. The idea of news reporters looking around for the black person in the shower cap to interview is over. Now the media has learned effective tactics to shower cap people they choose to interview.
In all of the responses I've seen about RZA's Interview, whether pro or con, it amazed me how so many people had an opinion without ever questioning the actual context and forum this interview was conducted in. First and foremost, that interview was conducted by Bloomberg L.P.; a global business, financial information and news company. Bloomberg has over a quarter of a million professional service subscribers and approximately one million business week subscribers in over 150 countries. Demographically speaking, their target audience are not Millennials, nor do they look like RZA, his 6ft 4in son, or any of us voicing our opinion. Over 85% are middle age white men with money. This is to say that many of us weren't invited to that Bloomberg conversation. RZA was speaking to a middle aged white journalist with money to other middle aged white men with money, and a lot of what he had to say was agreeable with them.
Now, here's the fundamental problem with many of us, such as RZA, who speak to audiences like this that don't reflect the minority group we're a part of, regardless how American we claim to be: we don't consider the audience and who we're talking to. As a Guest Columnist for my local paper I wrote an article in December of 2014 entitled "Of course 'All Lives Matter" in response to the blacklash the Black Lives Matter movement began to receive. Ironically, it's the same "of course all lives matter" quote RZA used in his interview yet we both took very different approaches in articulating it. Because the primary subscribers to the local paper where I live are also middle age whites, I know the audience I'm communicating to and commit myself to sharing a unique perspective that's usually not represented and/or respected in their mainstream media. In reading my article above and knowing their primary audience, ask yourself what purpose does that article serve them. In listening to RZA's interview and knowing Bloomberg's primary audience, ask yourself what purpose did that interview possibly serve them. Is that demographic more conscious of the legitimate challenges black/brown people and other minority groups deal with in regards to police brutality? Does that demographic know anything more about the valid criticisms black/brown people and other minority groups have about Donald Trump's or Hillary Clinton's policies? Do you think Bloomberg's audience received commentary that would help them become more aware and sensitive to the perspectives of black/brown people and other minority groups?
Geopolitically and socioeconomically, that says a lot. The criticism RZA has received is primarily coming from black/brown people and other minority group's whose issues were under represented or not represented in his commentary, including Wu-Tang fans. However, Conservatives, Animal Rights Activists, Vegans, Patriots [Americans], Taoists and Law Enforcement were. That is a legitimate criticism I find problematic anytime a member of a minority group doesn't utilize their public platform to include the legitimate concerns of that group, especially in a mainstream medium where that perspective is usually not represented and/or respected. Another thing that was problematic is how non-indictments and police brutality against children like Tamir Rice, women like Sandra Bland and others that don't fit the black man profile wasn't addressed. They weren't men and their deaths had nothing to do with attire, dressing more refined and cleaning themselves up. Their deaths also had nothing to do with invoked fear. Saying to black males they need to take more responsibility for cleaning up their image, how law enforcement stereotypes them and it can contribute to police brutality is one thing. Saying to middle age white men with money that black males need to take more responsibility for cleaning up their image, how law enforcement stereotypes them and it can contribute to police brutality is something different. Either RZA knows what I'm speaking about and chose to speak in the best interest of the Bloomberg L.P share holders and subscribers or he doesn't know what I'm speaking about which means he's not as politically sophisticated as he needs to be before conducting interviews like this. As a man of knowledge, I'm sure that he's learning something from the public and private response to his interview. I also will that we are learning something too.