Although it seems to be one of the "quieter" periods in the media's coverage of events regarding racism, BLM, and protests for equality, there are still people out there discussing and spreading their knowledge of the situations. Every now and again we see a video shared on social media, posed to cause an argument or catch the eye of someone who will undoubtedly be offended. I will not deny falling into these traps here and there, but recently this led me to a conversation with a man I at one time attended school with. This conversation was not an argument, nor was it on social media for everyone to read and insert themselves into. It was respectful and led me to believe that if anyone's voice should be heard, he should be one of them. He very graciously allowed me an interview, and I sincerely hope you can take a moment to see what he has to say.
Give a little insight of who you are what you do:
"My name is DeCarlo Jackson. I’m a freelance multi-instrumentalist and session musician, I play trumpet with Hippo Campus, Nazeem X Spencer Joles, and Improvestra. I also play bass with Ayvah, Rajitheone, and Doks. I also offer my talents through freelancing with a full roster of other jazz, rap groups, and recording projects. I’m a co-founder of a group called ROQA that organizes Art galleries, and concerts for social awareness around the Twin Cities. I also work at Walker West Music Academy as an Administrator/Teacher."
In your personal experience, what is life like today as a black man?
"As it is for most, I experience my fair share of ups and downs. I have a stark distrust in policy makers, law enforcers and lots of traditional aspects of the government. I’ve had a couple of experiences being pulled over, or harassed by police officers for fitting the description of someone they were looking for. However; I’m fortunate enough to live a very fun lifestyle, full of music, and diverse smiling audiences. But sometimes I just have to act like a lot of the negative energy in the world doesn't affect me. This is an incredibly taxing effort."
What is Black Lives Matter?
"It’s proclamation. Born out of the fact that black people have been systematically dehumanized, degraded, and abused for the entirety of American history. To me “Black Lives Matter” means, we are here too. We should matter as much as you, but we don’t. We never have, and we’re sick of it."
Have you attended any protests? How many?
"Yeah, I went to the 4th precinct after the murder of Jamar Clarke twice. And I went to the governor's mansion after the death of Philando Castille thrice."
What is the purpose of the protests?
"At the precinct it was about releasing the footage, and crucial details of Jamar Clarke’s death. While the governor's mansion was about speaking our voice, and letting a VERY wealthy, essentially all white neighborhood know that there’s a huge problem with the way that minorities are being policed in their communities."
What is the atmosphere at these protests?
"They were very chill. 'Alright' by Kendrick played at least three times at both of them. For the most part people were just kind of hanging out, greeting each other, and talking about what was going on. There were usually some people who seemed to be appointed as “in charge” of things like food, and water, and gathering people when someone decided to speak on the megaphone."
What role does the media play?
"The media should serve as a realistic insight into situations that everyone faces day to day. While it mostly does that, it also largely reflects the ideals of its specific customer base. Which in turn leads to great amounts of misrepresentation, and the perpetuation of toxic ideals through very specific language, and video editing."
How do you respond if someone tells you that "all lives matter"?
"I usually don’t have conversations with people who feel that way. Most people I associate myself just aren’t in that lane. But usually on the internet I just don’t respond. Because it’s only meant to verbally slap down some who says “black lives matter”. Because all lives are supposed to matter...that’s the point of saying “black lives matter”. We matter too. Same with people who say “blue lives matter”. It’s like “lol yeah duh”."
Besides protests, what actions do you, or anyone that is a part of BLM, think should be taken to make a change?
"As a nice, considerate person, I take it upon myself to try and teach people who wanna argue with me, which has about a 60:40 success ratio. As an event curator, I put together events that raise awareness to societal injustices, and give a platform of expression to those who are often talked over, and ignored. I think we as a society need to bring awareness to the fact that our laws and institutions are rooted in classist, sexist, and racist ideals, because they were made to serve and protect the wants and needs of the people who founded this country. White guys...with tons of money."
So, there you have it folks. This is not about a "battle of race". This is about equality among all, whether black, white, teacher, cop, etc., we all matter. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding these topics, and I think it should now be very clear that we ALL need to open our hearts and our minds to what our world entails. Everyone has a voice, and everyone should use it respectfully. Agree or disagree, there is no hiding that there are still many things that need working on in our society.
DeCarlo, I thank you very much for the opportunity of communicating with you, and for your willingness to answer questions among your busy activities!