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Sunday, June 16, 2024
Michael Render, known as rapper Killer Mike, shared his thoughts on systemic racism and police brutality during his Distinguished Lecture Series Talk Monday.

Michael Render, known as rapper Killer Mike, shared his thoughts on systemic racism and police brutality during his Distinguished Lecture Series Talk Monday.

Killer Mike expresses views on systemic racism, policing at talk

Michael Render—a Grammy award-winning actor and activist also known as Killer Mike—strayed from rapping to explore racial class divides, as well as police brutality, in his Distinguished Lecture Series talk Monday.

A UW-Madison graduate and rapper Michael Penn, who performs as CRASHprez, set the tone for the show with a rap about Tony Robinson, a Madison teen fatally shot by a police officer in 2015.

Killer Mike was then introduced after Mike Davis—a UW-Madison graduate student working toward a degree in educational policy—summarized his views on the current state of policing, specifically discussing police brutality.

Render started his talk by summarizing the history of class issues in the U.S. He highlighted the segregation and enslavement of black people in early America, but also acknowledged that white Irish and Italian people were not initially socially accepted in the U.S.

“What we have agreed to is a social construct that, in this country, race is our classism,” Render said. “Because [white people] were also a victim of that system, I am requiring you to help deconstruct that system. It is not good enough for you to be my friend and talk to me when the cops come. I place you with the responsibility of being an ally every single day.”

Render focused on police throughout his talk, but said the need for cops comes from our capitalistic system that oppresses and forces people into poverty.

“So long as you create your own crime, you are going to need a system to deter crime,” Render said. “In some small way, we participate in the system. We all see ourselves as oppressed, but we are Americans, and we oppress everyone.”

Render emphasized his belief that white people do not know enough about black history, while black people are forced to learn about white history. He said this is a problem because it promotes a separation between white and black people in the U.S.

“[White people] are robbed because you are given a history based on a false sense of classism that is needed to keep this system alive,” Render said. “We know everything about [white people], and you know so little about the people you have lived with the last 400 years. My challenge to you is to consider why this is happening.”

Render ended his talk by emphasizing the need for people with different identities to communicate.

“You have to get outside your house. You have to come to my neighborhood. You have to come eat dinner with me and my family. You have to invite me to yours,” Render said. “The only way we begin to trump this system is to get outside of our comfort zones.”

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