“I feel like every time I walk out of my goddamn house, I could die today.”
Gary Clark Jr. is speaking out against systemic racism, police brutality and injustice.
On Sunday, the Texas musician, 36, posted a powerful video on his Instagram Story, in which he shared his thoughts on the protests taking place across the country over the death of George Floyd.
Clark — who won two Grammy Awards earlier this year for “This Land,” a song detailing his personal experiences with racism as a Black man living in America and the South — opened up about the struggles he faces every day, including the daily fear that he could die when he simply leaves his house.
“I’ve been quiet a few days because I don’t know what to say,” Clark began in the black-and-white video. “I’ve been thinking everything…but I’m tired. I don’t have any more words. I said everything I needed to say on the record I think. Express myself to all kinds of press and ended up being that guy in the little box on whatever news program talking about this shit. I’m tired of crying on TV. I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of being sad about it, tired of feeling depressed and anxious and f–ked up.”
“I feel like every time I walk out of my goddamn house, I could die today,” he continued. “I’m a six-foot-four Black man. I’m probably some of y’all’s worst nightmare. If you didn’t know me, I’ve seen you walk across the street at night while I’m standing out front of my hotel smoking. I seen you clutch your shit on the subway.”
The musician added that he has “good” intentions and a “good” heart, just like Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
“We just want to wake up in the morning, go and make the most out of what we can, get what we can for ourselves and for our family and go the f–k back home,” he said. “That’s all. Why’s it so hard? Why is that a worry and a challenge?”
While Clark said he doesn’t “have any answers,” he questioned why people he’s encountered say they don’t want to be racists, but won’t defend those being targeted.
“I grew up in Texas with a lot of good old boys. I grew up in Texas with a lot of little country girls. A lot of parties, a lot of hanging out,” Clark recalled. “Met a lot of cousins, a lot of grandmothers. And there were some Bradley’s in there — some motherf–kers who wear camo and love guns way too much but don’t hunt. Real quiet, kind of strange. I met some Karens, always want to complain, call the cops on somebody, doesn’t want to be racist. ‘I don’t want to be racist! Is this racist?’ Yup.”
“Memaws, papas say some foul, backwards ass shit, but got some good hearts. Think the South will rise again, I-remember-the-good-old-days type of shit,” he continued. “Those people. I need y’all to talk to y’all’s people… What do you gotta lose? You gonna lose a relationship with someone who’s got bad energy? Whose mentality is twisted? Scared to lose that, because of a last name or some shit? What is it? You scared to get cut off? You need those bills paid? What is it? Why don’t y’all stand up to those people?”
Clark then called out those who listen to famous Black artists — including Jimi Hendrick, Kendrick Lamar, and more — and asked why they won’t stand up for the musicians they love.
“Y’all praise them on their birthdays and the days that they passed,” he explained. “But where are you standing up when we’re lying on the ground? We got knees in our necks. We got guns pointed at us, unarmed. We got our hands up in the air and they shoot us dead. Y’all appreciate us when we’re high and mighty and superstars, but when we need help, you got nothing?”
“I see some good people, we got allies out here. My wife’s one of them,” the artist added. “Some people who will stand for us and fight for us and die for us, even. But for those of you who appreciate our culture and use our culture for your own gain, and for you to have some sort of self-esteem and feel like you can be somebody out here, it’s a represent for us, man. Otherwise you’re on that side.”
Clark concluded by encouraging non-POC to educate one another about the inequality and discrimination Blacks have suffered and teach it to their children.
“You got direct access to those people who are f–king it up for everybody. Talk to them,” he said. “That’s your family, that’s your demographic, those are your fans, those are your supporters. That loss, man. The loss or the hurt, you’re taught to be a certain way. We gotta stop that now.”
“Talk to your people and raise your children up,” he continued. “Show them love and light so they can return and be beautiful gifts and share with you what they saw in the world, how they were opening and full of love. Let them go out and be a part of the world and work together. That’s how we’ve made it so far. Don’t f–k up the dream for everybody because you can’t say nothing. You don’t get to eat off of us and then leave us to die, or just leave us some scraps. And you’re over there, and let it be known then.”
Clark’s emotional video comes amid the daily protests that have erupted in over 30 cities since the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died while a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25.
Video captured Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck while he died, igniting outrage across the globe. Floyd was unresponsive when paramedics arrived and was later pronounced dead.
Chauvin was arrested and faces 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter charges. He and three other officers were fired in connection with Floyd’s death. Clark shared an Instagram post on Wednesday, above, calling for the other officers to be arrested.
The state of Minnesota filed a civil rights complaint against the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday. According to Governor Tim Walz, the investigation will look into Floyd’s death as well as the “department’s policies, procedures, and practices over the past 10 years to determine if they engaged in systemic discriminatory practices.”