Questlove x Alex Wagner On The Trayvon Martin Verdict
Questlove (AKA The Boss) sat down with MSNBC host Alex Wagner (AKA my old boss) to discuss his emotional–and now semi-famous–reaction to the controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder trial, originally posted on his facebook page and then reprinted everywhere from NY Magazine to Huffington Post and–you know–Okayplayer. Questlove relates that the moment he heard news of the verdict via friends mouthing the words ‘he…got..off’ at the booth in a crowded Amsterdam nightclub may be the only time he has ever walked away from a DJ gig (sounds like jokes but to anybody who knows Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson on a personal or professional level….that is kind of crazy). As you can see in the screengrab above Questo always shows up with his heart on his lapel but like an interview pro, Alex pushes him to go even deeper on the message of dehumanization that is inherent in the radical devaluation of Trayvon Martin’s basic right to life by the legal system in this case–inherent or perhaps more accurately, unavoidable, as Questlove describes his struggle to maintain his protective layers of numbness in the face of the news. Obviously this particular testimonial has resonated with the feelings of many people, far beyond those who know Questo or follow his facebook timeline–yet it seems like the same conversation is happening in various ways across the country right now, whether it’s Nas or Barack Obama who is trying to provide the historical context that underscores the outcry and expressions solidarity that have accompanied this very hard to swallow newspill. Speaking for myself I struggle back and forth with the sense that this is a teachable moment, a time to address some systemic injustices that have long been swept under the rug of public discourse (like at least since the Reagan 80s) and the creeping sensation that all the public catharsis is something of a distraction from the very, very impersonal, non-subjective issues with letting this verdict stand. And the societal implications. Because if this application of the Stand Your Ground law (known in Florida as the “Shoot First” law) is recognized as the law of the land the message to young black males is not just that your life is valueless in the eyes of the law. The message is that he who shoots first receives the legal benefit of the doubt. Cue East Flatbush Project’s “Tried By 12” here and watch below. And whether you agree with me, Questo or nobody at all…keep talking.