Categories: Music

Mathew Knowles shares why it’s important to confront racism in America

Matthew Knowles was a featured speaker during rolling out’s 2019 RIDE Conference. He joined Roland Martin and Ryan Mack at the “Bangi: Cannabis Land — Access and Ownership” panel discussion. (Photo credit: N. Ali Early for Steed Media)

Mathew Knowles understands the importance of confronting racism in America. Knowles made it a point to teach his kids, Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, the reality of being Black in a country where barriers have always existed for minorities.

Knowles, who is the author of Racism From the Eyes of a Child, decided to speak out against the brutal killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

During an interview with rolling out’s “A.M. Wake Up Call,” Knowles shared his thoughts on the incident and what it will take to move forward.

There’s a difference between the racism you faced as a child versus what the younger generation is facing today. What do you tell your adult children and grandchildren about being aware when it comes to race in America?

I’m a professor at Prarie View A&M University. I tell young people it’s a shrewd type of racism. You can be my 15-year-old grandson Jewels. His mother is Solange. His grandfather is Mathew Knowles. His uncle is Jay-Z. His aunt is Beyoncé. But if this kid is in the wrong place at the wrong time, the police won’t care that he has famous family members. We’re all at risk. We all have fear of the police. We don’t look at them as our friends, but we should. We should come clean. I grew up at a time when Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were our leaders. They were in their 30s when they died. They started their movements in their 20s. We need young people to step up. Now is the moment.

What did you learn most about yourself when writing the book, Racism From the Eyes of a Child?

I learned a lot of things about myself when writing this book. I had rage inside of me. I felt insecure because I was the Black kid that other kids laughed at when I made a mistake. I remember saying, “That will never happen again and I will be the best.” Everyone is not racist. But I was on a panel this past week and [a] White [man] said that he was like me because he didn’t see color. That’s not true. When I see a White man, I see a White man. When a White man sees me, he sees a Black man. We have to be real. We’re culturally different.

So many people are traumatized by the video of George Floyd’s death. How should people cope after seeing those images? 

I’m a believer in therapy. If you can’t do that, talk about it. What really gets me is to see the White officer put his knee on George Floyd’s kneck and have his hands in his pockets and look at the camera… I think about a message that I got from a missionary in Mexico. The card said, “Pray not for a life free of trouble, pray for triumph over trouble for what you and I call adversity.” This moment is an opportunity. We have to realize the opportunity to change structural racism in America.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Shaw's latest book, Trap History, delves into the history and global dominance of Trap music. Follow his journey on TrapHistory.Com, Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

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