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RZA

Bloomberg

Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA had some interesting thoughts to share during a recent interview on Bloomberg’s With All Due Respect. The rapper-director spoke on everything from today’s political climate to the much-talked-about topic of the Black Lives Matter movement and law enforcement.

But it’s his comments about BLM and law enforcement that have some people shaking their heads. When asked about BLM, he definitely gave an interesting response.

“Of course black lives matter,” RZA said. “All lives matter. I stopped eating meat because their lives matter to me. I don’t think it’s necessary for us to grow a cow to kill it.”

Unfortunately, it’s not the livestock out there in the streets getting harassed and killed by cops. But go on with your vegan self.

Speaking of cops, if RZA hadn’t become a rapper, he says he would have been a cop.

“Look, I wanted to be in law enforcement as a kid,” he said. “You wanted to be these guys, you know what I mean?”

But the image of police has changed, he continued. “In the old days, a cop, you’d let him in your house and give him a cookie and milk. Now you’re like ... yo, yo yo, yo.”

RZA went on to emphasize that “all lives matter” and gave props to the police.

“I love what the police do for our society; I love the idea of it, to serve and protect. Those who are upholding that idea, then they are beneficial to society. But those who lose that focus, whether they lose it through fear, through stress, or through not being properly trained—and they are allowed to go out on the streets—how can you enforce law if you don’t understand law?” he said.

But he also pointed the finger at the image some black people project, and seemed to say that if you wore nicer clothes, you wouldn’t have certain issues. This coming from a man who rocked hoodies and Wallabees for the majority of his life.

“When you think about some of the brothers who are being brutalized by the police, you also got to have them take a look, and us take a look, in the mirror, at the image we portray. If I’m a cop and every time I see a young black youth—whether I watch them on TV, movies, or just see them hanging out—and they’re not looking properly dressed, properly refined, you know, carrying himself, conducting himself proper hours of the day—things that a man does—you’re going to have a certain fear and stereotype of them,” he espoused.

“I tell my sons, I say, if you’re going somewhere, you don’t have to wear a hoodie—we live in New York, so a hoodie and all that is all good. But sometimes, you know, button up your shirt. Clean up. Look like a young man. You’re not a little kid, you know what I mean? I think that’s another big issue we gotta pay attention to. Is the image that we portray that could invoke a fear into a white officer, or any officer?” he continued.

Interesting comments indeed.

But when will people realize it’s not their attire that’s supposed to make the police feel safe around them?

A cop doesn’t care if you’re in a three-piece tailored suit or a hoodie. Respectability politics won’t keep you from getting racially profiled. Just ask former tennis star James Blake, who was dressed “properly” when he was wrongly profiled and manhandled in New York City by a group of cops.

How is it that RZA’s BFF, Quentin Tarantino, has a better understanding of police brutality and the misuse of justice than he does? 

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Yesha Callahan is editor of The Grapevine and a staff writer at The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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