What Being Black In America Feels Like For Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Mahershala Ali And Others

By Taryn Finley, huffingtonpost.com


Jay-Z didn’t hold back when it came to letting the world know what it’s like to be a black man in America on his already platinum album “4:44,” which dropped on Friday.

He incorporated other black voices on Monday when he released a footnotes video for his song “The Story of O.J.” Jay-Z, along with Van Jones, Kendrick Lamar, Michael B. Jordan, Will Smith, Mahershala Ali and others, got candid in their individual interviews about the routine racism they’ve faced throughout the years….

Ali explained that black men move throughout the world constantly on the defensive mode in order to survive.

“We don’t have the capacity to play offense,” the actor said. “Like we can’t move cause we are constantly looking for the moment when you’re going to be disrupted so you walk through the world very aware that the world views you a certain way. So you gotta play defense and you gotta play it real smooth.”…

“Success is still in many ways a synonym for white,” Trevor Noah said. “And so once you’ve attached successful to the black man, there’s a little key that’s been given to you that may give you access to the white world. The key can be taken away… but at least you have a key for the time being.”

In his song “The Story of O.J.,” Hov calls out black people who become rich and famous and separate themselves from the culture. Noting when O.J. Simpson said “I’m not black, I’m O.J.,” Jay-Z urged black influencers to go beyond that and pave the way for the next generation of black leaders….

It’s gonna take for the way-showers to do it and not get to that point and not turn into ’I ain’t black, I’m O.J.”

Watch a preview of “Footnotes for ‘The Story of O.J.’” above and watch the full video on Tidal.

Read the full story here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Social Movements and Organizations of the 1960s, 70s and 80s

Griot: Dawson Barrett

Photo and Copy Editor: Fran Kaplan


The 1960s saw an upsurge in civil rights and other organizations promoting freedom and equality for blacks and women.

The 1970s brought a backlash against those movements by well-funded and well-placed organizations of the Right seeking more freedom for corporations and a return to traditional roles for women.

In the 1980’s, hip-hop and punk rock music expressed anger at “The Power” through their lyrics instead of through actions to change laws.


Prominent Civil Rights Movement Organizations:


Other 1960s Era Organizations:


1970s “New Right” Organizations:


1980s Hip-hop / Punk Rock Artists:



Dawson Barrett is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He recently taught a history course on American activism and countercultures in the post-1960s period.





Rashaad Newsome: An artist who fearlessly collages hip-hop, vogue culture and opera

Rashaad Newsome Artwork

Rashaad Newsome Artwork

When speaking of Newsome as a performer and the role of performance in his work Levai added “[Newsome] is cataloging gestures in a way that we have not seen before. This is evidenced in Shade Compositions, 2009, even further in FIVE, 2010 as well as in The Conductor. This method of documentation is less a statement about the artist’s personal intentions, and instead focuses more on archiving gestures in a community.”

Newsome is masterfully expanding the boundaries of language and gesture and asking his viewers to join him in this exploration. His work requires a deeper analysis of things thought to be understood all too well such as hip-hop, vogue (or voguing), gesture and body language. Newsome confronts and shifts the assumptions associated with each of these cultures and boldly calls for reconsideration, and maybe even slightly, reproach.

Read more about Newsome’s art here.