I subscribe to the notion that if you have a microphone you should say something meaningful. If you have a large platform and a captive audience, why not make it count? With their social media followers in the millions and the ability to reach new fans as effortlessly as sending a tweet, some of our favorite MCs are using their mics for more than just moving a crowd. This new monthly column will feature musicians who use their large platforms as on opportunity to bring greater awareness to issues such as education, prison reform, and politics to help produce positive social change.
Our first feature is an Atlanta-based rapper named Killer Mike. Killer Mike, who describes himself as both activist and a rapper, has always been vocal around social justice issues. His opinions around prison reform, police brutality, and same-sex marriage are well known. Recently, Mike expressed his passionate support for Senator Bernie Sanders at Sanders’ Fox Theater Rally during what many are calling one of the most powerful and inspiring moments of this election season, electrifying the crowd with the following statement:
“I’m not here to talk about what benevolent politicians are going to save the day for you. I’m not here to talk about a dream that we think is unattainable, so we settle for less. I’m not here to talk about a utopian society where everyone is forgiven and no one has to pay for past debts. I’m talking about today, the Martin King post-the Washington march. The Martin King that was against the war machines that uses your sons and nephews to go to other lands and murder. I’m talking about a revolutionary.”
He continued that he had no desire to see the U.S. elect its own Margaret Thatcher: “I’m here because working-class and poor people deserve a chance at economic freedom. And yes, if you work 40 hours a week, you should not be in poverty.”
This level of support may or may not have an impact on Sanders’ presidential nomination. While it is true that the demographic of voters that Senator Sanders is seeking (ages 18-25) are huge supporters of hip-hop as whole, it still remains to be seen if this will equal a victory on election night. However, Killer Mike’s passionate endorsement of Sanders seems to have recharged the political excitement amongst this coveted demographic. This in itself is a small victory and a great way for a musician to use his microphone.
Shanita is a mom, writer, social justice advocate and Nas Stan.