The Curious Case Of Yasiin Bey: A Sovereign Man
The Curious Case Of Yasiin Bey: A Sovereign Man
The Black on Both Sides album helped me during one of the toughest times in my life and I remember listening to "My UMI Says" which gave me that extra push to stand tall and shine my light on the world!
Traveling to Cape Town, South Africa during Yasiin's court case due to his World Passport rejection was an eye opening experience. It was disturbing and at times heart-breaking to see a man of such strength and magnitude of talent suffer due to a legal system that is truly broken. Yasiin was being punished by the judicial system for asserting that he was a Sovereign Man. In this day and age of increasing police brutality and institutional racism reaching an all time high in the United States, Yasiin chose another path. He chose to denounce citizenship from a country that has a dark history of attacking the so called "African American" or "blacks" and other Indigenous groups. To some, Yasiin's decision may have seemed extreme, revolutionary even...but was it? Let's consider the sobering facts for a moment about racial inequality.
In the US school system, black kids are three times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts. As juveniles, blacks are 18 times more likely to be sentenced as an adult than white kids, and according to the APA, make up almost 60 percent of children in prison.
When it comes to work, the jobless rates for black college graduates has been twice that of whites for decades now. Studies have even been conducted showing people with "black" sounding names are half as likely to be called back for jobs as people who have more "traditional" (think White Anglo Saxon) names.
When it comes to economics the numerical disparities are even more drastic. The average household income of whites in the USA is $91,000, while it's only $7,000 for blacks. This figure has tripled in the past 25 years alone. Let that sink in for a moment. The wealth gap has tripled and getting far worse as time goes by. For black families the median net worth is $28,500- compared at $265,000 for whites.
Finally lets look at the statistics for blacks in relation to the law. According to the Sentencing Project, blacks are automatically viewed as dangerous- even though they're not more prone to criminal behavior than any other group. A black man is searched at a traffic stop at a frequency of three times more than a white man, and is six times more likely to be sent to jail. Let's repeat that- six times more likely to be sent to jail.
Being "Black on Both Sides" means you're a marked man in Yasiin's home town of NYC to an even greater degree. Even though whites break traffic laws at the same rates, blacks and Hispanics are four times more likely to be stopped and frisked.
All the way up to capital punishment the inherent racism doesn't end. Blacks are 38 percent more likely to receive the death sentence than whites- for the exact same crime!
Perhaps the most common misconception is that slavery was the last great contributor to the structural racism blacks and other groups suffer under today. This leads to many individuals erroneously believing blacks are lazy and need to just "get over it". After all, blacks have been "freed" since 1865. The truth is after slavery was abolished, many laws were put into place to prevent blacks from having a fair or equal chance to prosper and fully partake in citizenship. These sabotage laws included The Black Codes, Pig Laws, Separate But Equal (Plessy v. Ferguson) and Jim Crow of which the latter was finally overturned under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
So I ask you again- does Yasiin's decision as a black man to denounce citizenship from the United States of America seem so extreme or revolutionary now?
Yasiin is a Sovereign Man. One who is politically aware and not in denial. Perhaps the fact that he obtained a World Passport and asserted his sovereignty isn't what's troubling. Its that more people haven't.
I have observed Yasiin on many occasions and know that the main motivation behind everything he does is his strong faith and love of his family. The many late night to early morning conversations we shared about life, our spiritual faith, music and future goals have been very memorable for me. I am humbled to have shared ideas and obtained wisdom from one of the most influential and prolific artist of our time.
The resounding truth and underlining point I got from Yasiin is that you don't have to stay anywhere you are mistreated. Like the famous Mike Murdock quote says, "Go where you are celebrated, not tolerated". We are Global Citizens whose birthright should be the ability to travel anywhere on this green earth. Hopefully one day the law will catch up to this truth that should be self-evident, and our children can inherent a borderless world.
Maybe the most insidious symptom of racism is that we still refer to each other as crayon colors, as being "black" or "white". Throughout this article I've used those terms because that's the nomenclature that's most familiar in the States. When traveling around the world however, people refer to one another based on their culture as they always have for millennia (e.g..."Russian", "Peruvian", "Italian", "Nigerian", etc..)
Yasiin had to travel outside of America just to finally be called an '"American".
Personal Message for the Bey's:
During my stay for three months in Cape Town, UMI truly became like a second mother to me. She is a phenomenal woman and business minded who continues to show her family unconditional love and live up to her name every day. To my big sister, thank you for all the amazing and selfless things you do. You are the definition of beauty and integrity. To my nieces and nephews, you are royalty and remember- your presence is a present.
Below I'm picture coming out of a court appearance with Yasiin Bey