The “Nobody” Interview: Marc Lamont Matters!
Kam Williams | 8/12/2016, 6:07 a.m.
for selling loose cigarettes on the street in Staten Island. The
question isn't are these people perfect, but rather are they subject
to a level of surveillance, policing and punishment commensurate with
their crimes? I want to live in a world where you don't have to be
perfect to survive. I think Mike Brown is a perfect representation of
Black Lives Matter precisely because he isn't perfect. He still
deserved to live.
KW: Do you think video games and gangsta' rap might have contributed to the
image of the black male as violent and dangerous, perhaps causing
cops to have an itchy trigger finger around them?
MLH: Video games don't help, rap music doesn't help, and news outlets running
B-roll footage of black people being violent doesn't help, but I
think there's a deeper cultural problem that we need to wrestle with.
There has never been a moment, since the birth of White Supremacy,
when we didn't think black people were violent.
KW: In your conclusion you say, "Empires eventually fall, and that freedom
is closer than we think." Are you expressing your expectations
MLH: I'm saying nothing lasts forever, whether it's Greece, Rome or the
British Empire. It doesn't mean that America has to end. The country
could be reshaped and reimagined in a way that is even more
democratic and less imperial in nature. We're trying to radically
reshape the nation in ways that are more just and fairer. That's what
I mean when I say that empires eventually fall. I'm not calling for
the end of America. I'm just calling for a reimagination of its
KW: Still, I wonder why you would start your book with Mike Brown, if you want
to unite the country and rally as many people as possible to the
MLH: It wasn't my choice to start with Mike Brown. Remember, since August 9,
2014 we've seen the most protracted resistance to police violence in
U.S. history. That's when the movement started.
KW: I'm also concerned about situations like the City of Flint, where corrupt
politicians were all too willing to commit crimes and ruin children's
lives by covering up the fact that the water was contaminated with
lead. How many other Flints do you think might be out there right
MLH: These are acts of civil evil. These are crimes that only happen when you're
poor, or black, or brown or severely disenfranchised. This is not
just about people making mistakes or being indifferent. There's a
system installed that allows this to happen.
KW: Where do you see the country headed because of the rift being created by
Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter or the police and Blue
MLH: I think there's rift, but it's a false dichotomy suggesting that we have to
choose between critiquing state violence and people who shoot police