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Author Touré on Black Lives Matter, presidential politics

Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness book cover

In part two of our conversation with author and critic Touré, the discussion centers on the Black Lives Matter movement and presidential politics.

Author and critic Touré will visit Grand Rapids on Thursday to take part in a program called “Identity and Bias: Impact on Individuals and Institutions.” He has written extensively on subjects ranging from music to politics to black life in America, and he’s also been a TV personality on shows like MSNBC’s “The Cycle.” Earlier this week, Touré spoke with Current State’s Scott Pohl about his role as a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee and his book about Prince, “I Would Die 4 U.”

In the second part of their interview, Scott Pohl questions Touré about the Black Lives Matter movement, the presidential campaign, and his 2011 book “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness: What it Means to Be Black Now.”


On the term post-blackness

“Viewing, embodying or performing blackness in any way that you wish does not mean post-racial or a sort of leaving of blackness - but instead leaving the idea that blackness is one specific thing or is performed one specific way. Suggesting that you can be black in any way that you want. It seems to me like some people think that blackness was this fragile identity that required a constant relationship to the hood. Like the hood was the refrigerator and blackness was milk - the further it got away from the refrigerator the more it would spoil. That’s not the case at all. You can perform or embody blackness in many ways.” -- Touré

Have any of your conclusions changed five years after your book was published?

“I wouldn’t say that the conclusion has changed. I would write an entirely different book if I was to start on that journey again. If I was writing now - or anytime in the past two years - I would do something much darker. Much more serious. Something dealing with the Black Lives Matters issues, the new Jim Crow issues, massive incarceration and the war on drugs. I’m proud of that book, but I think that it’s very spiritual and poetic. That has its place, but we also need to deal with the serious, difficult stuff. That’s not what I chose to do in that book. What I would feel necessary to do now, is to deal with some of the harder stuff.” — Touré

On Black Lives Matters protests at political events

“I have no problem with Black Lives Matters being aggressive with how they get their message. I think it’s interesting that is the special interest group that has had a greater impact on this election than any other. I find it really valuable that instead of pressing the right to do better - when we know they’re not going to - they have pushed the left to be better.

This is the first time in my lifetime that I can remember the black groups pushing the Democratic party to really earn their vote. Because black people going back to LBJ are voting in massive numbers for the Democratic party. But when do we demand that they do something to earn that? Black Lives Matters is doing that. I don’t have a problem with them going directly to a candidate at a public rally and demanding that we speak about this issue now. If a candidate is not prepared to answer an important question from a citizen, then they have a problem.” — Touré

On presidential campaigns from Ben Carson & Donald Trump

“I found Ben Carson’s campaign to be completely problematic. He’s politically very juvenile. I could not take anything about that campaign seriously at all. The Trump campaign is the inevitable end of allowing talk radio to define the agenda. The Trump voter makes the Tea Party look like a bunch of wimps. It’s a bit scary to see the anger and the vitriol coming out so publicly. I think it’s detrimental to America already.” — Touré

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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