Big Sean, real name Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, pens a deeply honest open letter to his younger self.
In a co-op with Mic, the 28-year-old rapper, who signed with Kanye West’s GOOD Music in 2007 before moving on to Def Jam Recordings in 2008 and then Roc Nation in 2014, serves up some sound advice for his 18-year-old self, including what to do in the face of racism.
Of his first experience with racism, the rapper wrote, “Your parents will be right when they tell you as teenager that you’ll come across times when people will judge you for how you look, for you being young, black, driving in a car. They’ll tell you you shouldn’t drive with your hat to the back or not wear certain clothes.”
“You’ll think they’re crazy, but you’ll see things, like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, names you don’t know yet, but you’ll come to know too well in the future. They’re just trying to protect you,” he continued.
The Detroit native went on to recount an incident that happened during a drive back from Michigan State, where he was profiled due to the color of his skin. “The only thing you can do to change anything is to make yourself better and send prayers. Any act of violence, you will look back and regret. It’ll cross your mind on the way back from visiting Michigan State, when you pull into a gas station to shouts of ‘Get out of here, n—-r!’ I think they have a large KKK crowd there or something in Howell, MI.”
In response to the situation, he wrote, “It’ll make you angry, but you’ll realize that even though you’re on the same planet, you’re living in different worlds.”
In order to successfully bring about change, Anderson reveals the responsibility he feels to stand up for the little man. “One day your city will need you,” he writes. “Flint up the road will need you. They’re going to need all the help they can get. Give these people a hero to look up to — a black one at that — one that the whole city can be proud of.”
To read the rapper’s open letter in its entirety, hit the flip.