Chicago has been the hub of social change for the past few months in light of the Laquan McDonald case. During this time a movement has arisen led by the youth of Chicago. They are seeking justice and ultimately want a change of the guard. Activist-singer Ja’Mal Green has been one of the loudest and most active representatives of this movement. Ja’Mal was part of the march that helped to shut down Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and most recently he led a march at the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. He speaks candidly about what should be done, his relationship with the mayor of Chicago and why “Rahm has failed us.”
Tell us who you are.
I am Ja’Mal Green. I am a 20-year-old entrepreneur born and raised in Chicago with a mission to make a difference in the world. Singing is my passion and giving back to communities is my responsibility. I have been performing all over the country as well as going into schools to talk to youth about anti-bullying and anti-violence.
What specific event prompted you to be as active as you are in this movement?
Being able to sit at the table and listen to the mayor tell lies and have his team make it seem like it wasn’t a covered up murder was it for me. After watching the video of Laquan McDonald getting shot 16 times is where I fully decided to fight for our people.
Tell us about your relationship with Rahm and what is different about it now.
There is no relationship with Rahm. I voted against him but when he got in and I was given the opportunity to partner my company with his team, I took it to save lives. I was the “Put The Guns Down” ambassador going into schools to promote a safe summer. It was business, I did my part for the community and now that business relationship is done.
When you say “Rahm failed us” what do you mean?
It is a saying that speaks for the Black community on who Rahm is. Not only the Black community, but the teachers, and even mental health patients. It says that Rahm did not do what was in the best interest of the people all for political gain. He decided that he wanted to continue the racist and corrupt system so he has failed the people of Chicago.
As an artist how important do you feel it is to support a cause such as this?
I think it is very important. Artists are role models and we have a lot of influence. I fully believe that artist should be giving back and standing up for communities. It is our responsibility as a people no matter what your occupation is because we all should want safer and more resourceful communities for our kids.
Who inspires you to keep going?
Seeing the unification of people inspires me to keep fighting. Seeing people come together, protest and actually share the same beliefs is amazing. We have all races coming together and it is a beautiful sight. The people support the movement, chip in to get anything needed, and take the message back to their communities and that is what motivates me to keep going.
There has been an attempt to control the narrative of this movement. What have you done to protect the integrity of what you are doing?
I have constantly spoken on what we’re doing and how we are doing it. It is important for people to know our end goal but how were going to stay peaceful until we get to that goal. Staying peaceful, keeping kids and youth involved has shown the positive message we want to convey.
Are you representing any specific organization or a group of them?
I started my organization when I was 15, but I am not representing anything but the people. It is important for us to put organizations, and agendas to the side for this cause.
How would you approach the problems in Chicago today? Talk about some solutions.
The main solution is to unify people and establish love for one another. After we can do that, we can start by changing the leadership we have in Chicago. Register people to vote and have everyone ready to hold elected officials accountable. We need to change the CPD culture in our neighborhoods where CPD is not the oppressive force. We also need to stand up to leadership to get a flow of resources through black communities that have been starving so many years. I have many solutions but we have a lot of work to do but we have to do it together.
What encouraging words do you have for our readers?
The best thing I can say I say is that everyone should be doing something! There are too many problems in the world and we would be doing an injustice to the next generation if we did not fix things. Stop looking to criticize everything and you do something and be the change you want to see.