Racism in 2013: Redneck Space Travelers, Meth Smokers and Other Dumbasses
Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His project The Hero Killer was released on January 21st and will followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get The Hero Killer here.
I've thought about this for awhile, and for some reason I woke up this morning feeling the need to go on a restless rant about a touchy subject: Racism.
Every week for the last month I've been on one of the longest running music video television programs in existence, BET's 106 & Park, as part of its Freestyle Friday competition. We film the show in New York, but I live in St. Louis so I return home after we film, relax for a few days and then I head back to New York once the weekend is over. My cronies and I are all a bunch of idiots, so we drive across the country every week, spending nearly twenty-plus hours in an automobile.
During the course of this drive we stop in small towns to refill the gas tank, use the restroom, grab some unhealthy snacks and stretch our ailing cramped-up body parts. I have a bad back, similar to my childhood idol Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, so this ride is never glorious from my perspective). My entourage is made up of mostly young African-American males, a crazy Caucasian rapper from the boonies of Illinois, and occasionally a few of my Jewish friends come along for the adventure.
So let me paint this picture for you: Your gas tank is low and you're in rural Indiana (one of those states that people seem to always claim is the "birthplace of the KKK") and these are the people you're traveling with. Stopping in Ohio and certain parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia can be trouble as well. In some of these towns they act as if they haven't seen a black person in the flesh ever. When they notice the fact that we're also traveling with a few white guys they seem to get even more irritated -- some of us can afford to live a life overflowing with the bliss of ignorance and are comforted by the fact that all of our neighbors look exactly like us. These small towns are like alien planets designed by hoosier redneck space travelers that sought to establish enduring colonies of pure-bred trailer park owners and meth smokers.
We had one incident two weeks ago. I basically knew there was no point in me thinking it was safe to use the restroom at this diner / gas station we strolled into. Nick Menn (Whiteout, the crazy Caucasian rapper) pulls over to run inside of the hellish looking hybrid diner-gas-station establishment. Nick needs to use the restroom and of course grab some snacks because he has the munchies (whenever Nick is driving we pretty much expect it). He runs in and RT Faq, his trusty partner in rhyme, follows suit. I watch both of them walk in using their body language to gauge rather or not I'd like to hop out and grab a bottle of water. They both come walking out together, and from the look of things I basically know it's not all good, but I'm fiending for this water. So I hop out the vehicle and walk toward the door. Nick turns to me and says, "Hey man be careful in there". I reply, "Well walk in here with me," as if the fact that he's white will somehow save the day. In retrospect, that's just going to aggravate the backroad racist scummies even more -- ha!
I walk in, look around, and every eyeball in the building glues itself to me. I turn to Nick and say "Fuck it. I don't even want the water anymore; lets stop at another place." Often we encounter moments like this on the road, but this time particularly felt like we walked right into the 1930s.