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Say It Loud: Charlamagne Tha God Is Black & Proud 
By Zon D’Amour, Contributing Writer 
Published April 12, 2017

After nearly two decades in the radio industry, Charlamagne Tha God’s new memoir “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It” takes readers on a journey that explicitly articulates and reiterates that there are no overnight successes. To sustain the type of career he now has on the radio  as one-third of the popular Power 105.1 morning show, “The Breakfast Club” as well as the host of the MTV series, “Uncommon Sense”, Charlamagne had a series of humbling missteps which include being fired four times and a stint of being unemployed for a year and moving back home with his wife and kids. In an exclusive interview with the L.A. Sentinel, the multihyphenate entertainer reflects on the life experiences that have made him certain of the fact that “Black Privilege” exists and is readily available for those who are interested in walking in their purpose and living their best lives.

LAS: Beyond being a walking example of black privilege, what are you doing to pave the way for more men from your neighborhood of Moncks Corner, S. Carolina to follow in your footsteps?

CTG: I have a non-profit organization called Third Eye Awareness and we’ve done everything from bookbag drives to turkey give aways for Thanksgiving. I sponsor several basketball and football teams throughout my community. I was recently the keynote speaker at the C3 Conference hosted by Columbia Career Connect.

I’m paying it forward by sharing information that I’ve learned from all of the experiences I’ve had. What kind of person would I be if I don’t share that back with my people? I have my own day in Columbia, South Carolina (April 8th). It wasn’t given to me solely because of my TV or radio endeavors, it was because of the philanthropy that I do in the state. And there’s a lot more that I plan to do. I want to open a youth center or some type of big brother community mentorship program.

As a radio personality, I’m a public servant, we all should be public servants in some way shape or form. I feel like my soul purpose is to be of service to others.

C

LAS: In the beginning of your book you mention that you’re the “Prince of Pissing People Off” then Principal 5 basically says don’t piss people off and “…treat people with respect where you are, or you might pay for it later.” Can you give insight into your no-holds-barred way of telling people how you feel? 

CTG: You can be very honest and direct with people, respectfully. I never do anything maliciously; I simply give my honest opinion. What I was referring to in terms of pissing people off were the people you come across everyday. I pride myself on being the nicest person in the room. My grandmother always told me, ‘Manners will take you where money won’t.’ When I walk into a room, I say “hello” to everyone I don’t care who the person is or what they do, it’s simply being respectful. I treat everyone from the custodian to the CEO with the same amount of respect.

Growing up I watched examples of how not to treat people. In the book I talk about working for Wendy Williams and her husband Kevin [Hunter]. I knew when I got into certain positions that I wasn’t going to talk to people the way that they did. My mindset is, if you want to see the true character of a person watch how they treat those who can’t do anything for them.

Now when I’m talking to an artist, I’m not being malicious when I tell them their music is wack. These are artists with mad money and fame so why should they care about my critique?

I was specifically referring to the regular everyday people that you come across on your come up. You never know if that intern that you [disrespected] might end up being the CEO of the company one day, you honestly never know who’s who. It’s easy to treat the stars and the executives with respect but how do you treat the security guards or the waiter that serves your food? You may have to cross that bridge later.

If you don’t have malice in your heart and you’re truly being honest, I don’t think you burn any bridges like that, you can only strengthen them. I think about everyone in my life that was harsh with me or who gave me tough love and told me things that I didn’t want to hear in that moment; fortunately it ended up being really good for me and I have nothing but respect for them today and those are the people I return to when I need that real honest advice.

LAS: Many African Americans or people of color are familiar with the term “white privilege” which denotes the societal advantages that are ascribed to Caucasians based on the color of their skin. 

To suggest that African Americans have a similar birthright will seem like a foreign concept to many people. Can you explain what inspired the title “Black Privilege”?

CTG: It’s this ideology that I have where I feel like it’s a privilege to be black. When you talk about “white privilege”, you’re talking about something systemic. When you’re talking about “black privilege” it’s something spiritual because we as black people tap into a divine system that a lot of other cultures and races can’t tap into and that system allows us to prosper in spite of everything that’s been thrown our way from slavery to segregation to mass incarceration.

We have a privilege pre-ordained by God that nothing and no one can stop. That’s why I use the example of the “Lion King” in the book. When Simba got with Timon and Pumbaa, Timon and Pumbaa were afraid until they realized that Simba didn’t even “know” he was a lion.

So we have to remind ourselves that we are a great people and we come from a great lineage. How can we say that we were Kings and Queens during ancient civilization but then turn around and say, ‘we don’t have privilege.’ Who said that? What is that based on? Is that based on the white man’s definition of privilege and what this system is showing us? Yes, of course. In this system called America, white privilege reigns supreme but to me, I have to embrace what I am and how special we are as a people. I have to know that God put me here for a real reason and He blessed me with divine privilege and there’s a divine system that I can tap into that can help me overcome any obstacle that stands in my way.

Charalamagne Tha God (courtesy photo)

LAS: For those people who have been affected by systemic racism and have been through the criminal justice system, grew up in poverty and/or were denied access to a quality education and in turn feel somewhat defeated, what are some of the initial steps to tapping into your black privilege to do the things with your life that you’re passionate about?

CTG: You have to make the same choice that I made when I was going through all of that and knowledge itself is very important. I remember reading a book called, “From Niggas To Gods, Part One” by  Andre Akil; the book was so easy to read, it was in capital letters with exclamation marks because Akil was screaming at us. It was about getting out of the mindset that this system has put you in.

This mindset that makes you feel like your circumstances are permanent and wherever you’re born is where you’re going to end up. You have to realize who you are. Similar to the concept of “Black Privilege”; if you say that you’re a king, queen, god or goddess and you recognize that you’re from ancestral greatness, you have to start living up to that. It’s really just that simple.

You have to start looking in the mirror and saying, ‘this is who I am, this is what I am and this is how I’m going to be’ and start demanding more from yourself. In spite of everything that this system has thrown at us, we still have to live at the end of the day. We still have to find purpose and find ways to prosper and make a profit so you have to find ways to stand on your own two feet and fulfill your potential as a black man or black woman on this planet no matter how marginalized or oppressed you may be.

You just have to say, ‘I want more for myself’. Those of us that get to a certain level, we have to start giving back to our communities, giving information it’s something that you have to do. It’s either realize that you’re a great individual by nature and move towards that or just accept the white man telling you: ‘you’re never going to prosper, this world isn’t meant for you to prosper, we have privilege, you don’t, that’s it.’ No! That’s not the mindset to have but that’s unfortunately how many [black people] feel but we have to snap out of it.

If you look at this government and this administration, this is the same thing that we’ve been facing for centuries and they’re not here to help us. In  this moment in time you have to help yourself and we have to help each other.

Charlamagne Tha God will sign copies of his book, “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes To Those Who Create It” following a conversation with Cari Champion of ESPN on Thursday, April 20, at  6:00 PM at Barnes & Noble/The Grove (189 The Grove Drive, L.A., CA 90036)

Categories: Entertainment | Exclusive (Entertainment) | News (Entertainment)
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