Story by A.R. Shaw
Photography by DeWayne Rogers
Brotha don’t let nobody hold you back, no no no. –“Brotha”
Jill Scott had just experienced the most amazing night of her life. Her childhood idol, Prince, called on her to perform at a special show. It gave her an opportunity to work with an artist who inspired her as a musician. It was a surreal moment for Scott.
But reality came crashing down shortly after the show. Outside the venue, a group of drunk white men and women passed Scott on the street. As Scott waited for her driver, one person in the group yelled the N-word at her.
Scott has reached the pinnacle of success by selling millions of records, winning Grammy Awards and touring around the world. However, her success did not shield her from enduring racism in her own country.
Despite of the advances that have occurred when it comes to civil rights and equality, race remains a major issue in America. The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin hit Scott especially hard. She has a 4-year-old son, Jett, and must teach him that there is a strong possibility that he will be racially profiled at some point in his life.
“There are some things I have to instill in him as we move along,” Scott said during our one-on-one interview in Los Angeles. “I need him to be a thinker. I don’t believe we have to make ourselves fit into someone’s comfortable space. This is a real world and we are real people. Compassion for other people counts. You have to think about your surroundings — with the world, not just America. Be mindful of where you are, and I hate to say it, but be on guard. That burns me up that I have to think about my own protection. It’s a part of where we are, where we have always been. It’s just open now. I prefer [racism] to be open and in my face. At least I know what I’m dealing with. We all know what we’re dealing with.”