Actor and musician Henry Rollins, in his most recent LA Weekly column, asserted that white people would “lose their minds” if they had to deal with the vestiges of institutional racism that black people face on a daily basis.
“If white America experienced a fraction of what black America deals with regarding law enforcement, incarceration, the court system, employment and countless other facts of life, they would immediately and collectively lose their minds,” Rollins wrote.
The former Black Flag singer also blasted the media for allowing what he called “pieces of sh*t” like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani on TV following the police-involved shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
“The despicable litanies of willfully ignorant denial and misinformation I have heard spouted in the last several days by pieces of shit like Rudy Giuliani all but ensure that things will get worse,” Rollins said, adding, “The mainstream media outlets allow this utter crap to slide by unchallenged and, by doing so, legitimize falsehoods that could get people killed. Ratings-based, 24/7, for-profit media is the complete death of true journalism and a catapult for propaganda.”
The actor also argued that there are “at least two different Americas,” something he became aware of when he was in the third grade.
Seeing how his peers rushed to grab “free bag lunches” at school, Rollins wrote that “it was in this year that I understood that my life in America was going to be different, not only because of the color of my skin but because of the advantages that came with it.”
Rollins continued to describe a time when he was on a concert tour with rapper Ice-T and his band. Rollins said he realized then that his white skin made him more valuable than Ice-T and his black bandmates, who had to wear expensive jewelry and gold chains to prove their material wealth.
According to Rollins:
I learned another lesson many years later, in 1991. I was on the first Lollapalooza tour. It was one of the best summers of my life. I spent a lot of time hanging out with Ice-T. We talked almost every day. He is one of the most articulate and intelligent people I have ever met. I wish I had a teaspoon of what he’s got. I also spent time with his bandmates and crew.
On days off, or when our buses would pull into the same place, we would eat together. All his guys wore gold. I have no idea what a necklace is worth, but it all looked expensive to me. When we went into places, white patrons and staff tripped on these guys. This is when I understood one of the reasons for the visible display of wealth. My whiteness assured them that I could pay for my meal. Ice-T and his guys had to demonstrate their ability to pay by literally wearing a show of wealth.