Black and Male in America Kevin Powell Speaks His MindJune 18, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Posted in Interviews | Leave a comment
Black and Male in America Kevin Powell Speaks His Mind
By Davey D
On the eve of his highly anticipated conference on manhood and fatherhood here in Brooklyn, NY we caught up with long time Hip Hop activist and author Kevin Powell.
In our interview we talked about the hopes and expectations he has for the upcoming conference which will include professor Michael Eric Dyson, actor Hill Harper, Cousin Jeff of BET, Power 105’s Ed Lover and film maker Byron Hurts just to name a few. Powell explained the importance of building with young people so they can advance past victories and successes and avoid crucial pitfalls and mistakes made by those who came before them.
He spoke to us about the trainings and work he did last spring with over 700 Black college students in New Orleans to help with Katrina relief efforts and the importance of making sure they connected their present day work with challenges faced by the Civil Rights leaders in of past generations. In fact, Powell held the initial trainings in Selma, Alabama to help underscore the significance.
During our interview the former MTV Real World cast member opened up and was quite candid about some of the trials and tribulations he endured during his run for Congress last year. He admitted much of his efforts were a learning process and that he soon discovered that the political game is far dirtier than the music industry. Powell noted that people in power will pull out all the stops and get extremely grimy when they see you gunning for position, but the process toughened him up and strengthened his resolve. He concluded that he will again one day run for office and be much better prepared.
During our conversation, Powell talked about leadership and laid out some important criteria one needs to have in order to be a leader amongst today’s generation. He went into detail about being on the frontline. He spoke about creating bodies of work and ideas that change lives and lead people into new directions. Lastly, he also spoke upon the importance of building institutions that serve the community.
Powell spoke at length about the Don Imus situation and the relationships we as Black men have with sistas. He was very clear in dismissing Imus’ claims about his rancid behavior being influenced by Hip Hop. Powell spoke at length about the long history of powerful white male elites in this country and their deeply held views of Blacks both male and female being highly sexualized beasts who could and would be treated less than human. Most telling in this conversation was him referencing the racially charged writings of Thomas Jefferson who Powell pointed out was a slave owner. Powell summed things up by noting that Imus had long been a racist who was a continuum of long held beliefs and behavior.
Powell then addressed the very specific problems we in Hip Hop have with misogyny and the types of steps we need to take both as individuals and as a collective to move in a forward direction. Powell shared with us his past transgressions and laid out the types of steps he took to get back on track. A good bulk of our interview centered on developing solutions and discussing various ways we as men could improve our lives and Hip Hop.