America has a problem. Power, and the unequal distribution of its force.
The fundamental disparity of racial power has been at the root of decades of civil unrest, not to mention its ties to systemic injustice throughout the history of man. It is this issue, and our failure to truly recognize and solve it, that Trinidad Jame$ believes galvanized the revolution that we are seeing today.
“It’s a power issue, it’s definitely a power issue,” Trinidad Jame$ explains to L.A. Weekly publisher and podcast host Brian Calle. “For black America to gain that respect, white America has to understand the issue in power, and how tied they are to power. Because that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. Nobody wants to relinquish their power in order to share with a different race.”
Power is trickled down by class in this country, along with much of the world. The higher your socioeconomic class, the more power you have.
“Classism is the biggest curse in America,” laments Trinidad Jame$. “Classism is the biggest curse in the world. If you get rid of classism, then it’s very hard for racism to be so strong and dominant. Classism starts in school.”
Beyond the protests, beyond donating, beyond signing petitions and standing in physical and virtual solidarity, what can those of other races do to actually implement a lasting and effectual change?
“It almost feels like we will never be able to shake it, but we have to,” implores Trinidad Jame$. “We have to fight to shake it. It starts with you – each one teach one – you have to set the tone. We have to set the tone. We have to control our narrative.”
This movement of change and justice isn’t about politics, it’s about breaking through partisan gridlock and noise to do what is morally right.
“The first thing I would tell a white person like yourself, or any white person that may be listening to this particular podcast, or reading about it,” begins Trinidad Jame$, “…you have to take the time to actually understand the black culture. Not just the glitz and the glam, and the lifestyle of the flashy things in life, but the actual reason behind the struggle and the other side of the lifestyle that everyone wants to portray.”
“That lifestyle is just a fantasy world of the black culture, that’s just the sauce that comes with being black automatically,” he continues.
“People want the good part of your life but they don’t want to go through your pain, they want your pleasure. So I think it is time for white people to actually take the time to actually understand what true black culture is about, why the struggle has happened, and what does it take to actually have a voice that matters.”
Black Lives Matter
To those that do not understand how our social climate reached the tipping point we are currently experiencing, this week’s guest has this to say:
“Understand that when someone says black lives matter, that doesn’t mean for you to defend it with all lives matter, because obviously all lives have to matter in the long run, but all lives cannot matter until black lives are treated equally.”
For those that didn’t understand the first time, read it again.
“That’s the whole thing about it. That’s the biggest issue with all cultures right now, is that the black voice and black people are not equally respected by other races,” he explains. “White people need to take the time to actually understand the black culture”
There is no way to spin the fact that white people and black people get treated very differently in the U.S. The former experiencing privileges they are often ignorant to, while the latter is killed for lack of the same.
“These are the real issues that black people have to go through,” says Trinidad Jame$ as they discuss the defense strategies non-white citizens must have prepared at all times. “The issue with the police, that’s one thing. That’s a police vs. black people thing. But there’s other things outside of the police that deal with civilians … it’s a mutual respect that’s just not there.”
Non-law enforcement, or civilians, have prejudices that hurt the black community on a daily basis.
“When you’re playing from behind, everybody has a different method for how they want to catch up. Some people do it the right way, some people do it the wrong way, and a lot of times we have a lot of ‘wrong ways’ to define, we allow that one bad apple to define all the apples in the basket,” analogizes Trinidad Jame$.
Sweeping definitions do nothing to help our communities move forward.
“If you put the other shoe around it: if one family member is racist that doesn’t mean the whole family is racist,” he continues. “And you would like to get the benefit of the doubt. You would like to get that mutual respect to not be treated as a racist just because your father’s a racist. It’s the same thing in the black culture. Just because this particular kid robbed your store, that doesn’t mean that every black kid is going to rob your store.”
On May 20, 2020, Trinidad Jame$ released his single Black Owned and its accompanying video, as a response to the lack of black economic representation.
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a black man, was murdered by a white police officer while being detained in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
While the song was originally meant to be an anthem to celebrate black ownership, it has become so much more.
“My mindset has already been in a place of being able to steer them – anybody that’s paying attention to my voice, my music, my art – in a direction of understanding the power and economics of black economics and black ownership. Because economics is the foundation to anything that can get your voice actually truly heard and respected,” explains the artist.
“The reason why we go through so many injustices when it comes to the police force is because the black voice is not being respected, because we don’t have our economics together and we have no representation, nothing to fall back on if we’re not being equally respected by the police, by other races, because we need to build a stronger economic bind. And so black owned the single and the video, I wanted to put something into the world to start the conversation.”
“Me dropping that single definitely doesn’t automatically change the world, obviously, but the conversation and having music for people in the community that have black owned business already, whether it’s restaurants or grocery stores, and back owned products, I wanted to make an anthem for them,” he says. “I feel like nobody celebrates them enough.”
While the song was written a year ago, its subject matter is still as much of an issue today.
“The idea of black ownership and more black economics, and the struggle of our foundation of black economics, that’s been a problem,” says Trinidad Jame$.
When it comes to solving that problem, society will have to do more than just show up. We will need to actually do the work to listen, learn and change.
“If you’re not behind something because you actually really care, you’re just going through the motions,” explains Trinidad Jame$.
So what can we do to be allies? What can we do to not be a part of the problem? Listen to the latest L.A. Weekly podcast here or find it on iTunes here to hear more about what celebrated artist Trinidad Jame$ has to say about implementing effectual change.