Austin musician Gary Clark Jr. won four Grammy Awards earlier this year for “This Land,” a song from his 2019 album of the same name that addressed racism in America through the lens of his own personal experiences.
On Sunday, Clark posted a nine-minute video on Instagram to acknowledge the recent events that have brought those issues to the fore again. What follows is a transcript of his comments, followed by the video itself.
I’ve been quiet a few days because I don’t know what to say.
I’ve been thinking everything. But I’m tired. I don’t have any more words.
I said everything I needed to say on the record, I think. Expressed myself, did all kinds of press, and ended up being that guy in the little box on whatever news program talking about this (expletive).
I’m tired of crying on TV. I’m tired of being angry. Tired of being sad about it. Tired of feeling depressed and anxious and fucked up. Feeling like every time I walk out of my goddamn house I could die today.
I’m a 6-foot-4 black man. I’m probably some of y’all’s worst nightmare.
If you didn’t know me — I’ve seen you walk across the street at night, when I’m standing out in front of my hotel smoking. I’ve seen you clutch your shit on the subway.
My intentions are good. My heart is good.
That’s Big Floyd — that’s George Floyd. That’s Breonna Taylor. That’s Ahmaud Arbery.
We just want to wake up in the morning, go and make the most out of what we can, get what we can for ourselves and for our family, and go the fuck back home. That’s all.
Why is it so hard? Why is that a worry and a challenge?
I don’t have any answers, but I do think this.
I grew up in Texas with a lot of good ol’ boys. I grew up in Texas with a lot of country girls. Went to a lot of parties, a lot of hanging out. Met a lot of cousins and a lot of grandmothers, you know. And there were some Bradleys in there. Some (expletive) who wear camo and love guns way too much but don’t hunt. Real quiet. Kind of strange. I met some Karens. Always wanted to complain and call the cops on somebody. Doesn’t want to be racist. “I don’t wanna be racist. Is this racist?” Yep.
They said some foul backwards-ass (expletive) but got some good hearts, you know, think the South will rise again — I remember the good ol’ days type of (expletive). Those people? I need y’all to talk to y’all’s people. Like for real talk to those people. What do you got to lose?
You got to lose a relationship with somebody who’s got bad energy? Whose mentality is twisted? Scared to lose that, because of a last name or some shit? What is it? You scared to get cut off? You need those bills paid?
What is it?
Why don’t y’all stand up to those people?
I know that some of you right now are sitting around and jamming to Jimi Hendrix, or Kendrick Lamar, or Robert Johnson, Stevie Wonder. And to those of you, too, especially, the musicians out here, you know who you are, man. Calling yourselves blues guys, and R&B singers and (expletive). And playing Freddie King throughout your whole (expletive) set. Albert King licks all night long, B.B. King, talking about Robert Johnson was the greatest and (expletive). Y’all praise them on their birthdays and on the days that they passed.
But where are you standing up when we’re lying on the ground and we got knees in our necks? We got guns pointed at us, unarmed. We got our hands up in the air and they shoot us dead. Y’all appreciate us when we’re high and mighty and superstars, but when we need help, we got nothing?
And I see some good people out; we got some allies out here. My wife’s one of them. The people who will stand for us, and fight for us, and die for us, even.
But for those of you who appreciate our culture, and use our culture for your own gain, and for you to have some sort of self-esteem and feel like you can be somebody out here — then represent for us, man. Otherwise you’re on their side. You got direct access to those people who are fucking it up for everybody. Talk to them.
That’s your family. That’s your demographic. Those are your friends. Those are your supporters. They’re lost, man. They’re lost, or they’re hurt, or they’re taught to be a certain way. You gotta stop that now. You know, talk to your people and then raise your children up. Show them love and light, so they can return and be beautiful gifts, man, and share with you what they saw in the world, and how they were open, and full of love. Let them go out and be a part of the world, and work together. That’s how we’ve made it so far. Don’t fuck up the dream for everybody because you can’t say nothing.
You don’t get to eat off of us and then leave us to die, just leave us with scraps.
If you’re over there, then let it be known, then.
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