Stevie Wonder and Yasiin Bey Speak Out on Racial Tension in the U.S.

Stevie Wonder and Yasiin Bey Speak Out on Racial Tension in the U.S.
Killer Mike and Questlove aren't the only ones weighing in on the current uproar in the U.S. surrounding police violence and racial profiling. Both Stevie Wonder and Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def) have spoken out about recent furor, which surrounds grand jury decisions not to indict the officers who respectively killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

During a show in Seattle on Wednesday (December 3), Wonder made comments about the two deaths. He said:

Can you believe that within one month, two grand juries — secret grand juries — declined to indict two policemen for the killing of two black men? I just don't understand that. Let me just say this also. I don't understand why our legal system would choose secrecy when there's so much mistrust. I don't understand that. I don't understand why there could not have been a public trial where we would be able to hear all sides to the story. I just don't understand.

While playing the intro to "Living for the City," he continued, "I'll tell you what I do understand: I heard Eric Garner say with my own ears, 'I can't breathe.' And, as much as [Officer Daniel Pantaleo] has apologized, I don't understand why he did not stop."

Wonder further argued that guns are too accessible. He said, "We as family, Americans, all of us, of all colours, need to fix it with a quickness real soon."

Watch video of Wonder's speech at the bottom of the page [via the Hollywood Reporter].

As for Yasiin Bey, the rapper recorded a statement for Stop Being Famous. In the three-minute spoken essay, he observes that we're at a "watershed moment for humanity." He likens this to the firing of an arrow, where there must first be tension before flight. Read the transcript below, and hear the recording of the speech below that.

From a global perspective, where are we? We're at a critical time. We're at a watershed moment for humanity. I imagine we've been here before, and I imagine that we've probably been here for longer than we realize.

I think many of us are becoming even more aware of where we are, and the urgency to change this miserable condition on this Earth, Malcolm X said, is occurring to many of us. Reaffirming itself. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It's an opportunity for necessary change, positive change. It's not necessarily convenient or comfortable, as I'm sure it is with any period of growth. I read somewhere that in order for the arrow to fly, the bow has to be drawn back. There's some pressure involved, and I think we're all feeling that pressure. Some of us are more aware of it than others; some are trying to drown it out. But we all feel it in one way or another, in indelible ways, in these times and days.

'Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence.' That's the beginning of
Desiderata. 'Go placidly amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others — even the dull and the ignorant. They too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may became vain or bitter. As always, there will be persons greater or lesser than yourself.'