The Roots drummer pens a thought-provoking essay in the aftermath of a verdict that has shaken America.
In a Facebook post, which was tidied up and re-published on New York Magazine’s website, Questlove gives his thoughtful response to the recent acquittal of Florida man George Zimmerman, who killed black teenager Trayvon Martin last year.
“I don’t know how to not internalise the overall message this whole Trayvon case has taught me: You ain’t shit,” he writes. “That’s the lesson I took from this case.”
The hip hop veteran recounts the ways in which he has often taken care to protect others from their fear of him due to his size and colour, and argues that it’s “a crazy way to live”.
“I’m in scenarios all the time in which primitive, exotic-looking me — six-foot-two, 300 pounds, uncivilized Afro, for starters — finds himself in places where people who look like me aren’t normally found,” he says, adding that it has been “hammered in my DNA” to not make people feel “uncomfortable”.
“That is a crazy way to live. Seriously, imagine a life in which you think of other people’s safety and comfort first, before your own. You’re programmed and taught that from the gate. It’s like the opposite of entitlement,” he writes.
Many other musicians have responded to the court’s not guilty verdict in the past few days, with Stevie Wonder announcing he would be boycotting Florida and Beyoncé halting a concert in Nashville to pay tribute to the murdered teenager.
In other Questlove news, he recently published his first book, Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, while last month The Roots revealed details of their forthcoming collaborative album with bespectacled British rocker Elvis Costello.