Lauryn Hill Speaks Out on Racism

Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill is using her platform to spark a conversation on racism. Following her song “Neurotic Society,” the Fugees frontwoman has penned a lengthy letter on her Tumblr page in which she calls reverse racism “absolutely ridiculous” and cries out for the injustice in America.

She relates it back to her tax evasion case, where she was sentenced to three months behind bars.

“The prosecutor, who was a woman, made a statement during sentencing about me not doing any charity work for a number of years during my ‘exile,’” she writes. “Even the judge had to comment that she, meaning I, was both having and raising children during this period. As if that was not challenging enough to do. She sounded like the echo of the grotesque slave master, who expected women to give birth while in the field, scoop the Baby up, and then continue to work. Disgusting.”

Hill has until July 8 to report to prison.

Read Lauryn’s strongly-worded letter below.

The concept of reverse racism is flawed, if not absolutely ridiculous. Most, if not all of the negative responses from people of color toward white people, are reactions to the hatred, violence, cruelty and brutality that they were shown by white people for centuries. Much of the foundation of the modern world was built on the forced free labor of black peoples. The African Slave Trade, the institution of slavery, colonialism, its derivative systems, and the multiple holocausts throughout history, where whites used race as the defining reason to justify their oppression, conquest, and brutal treatment of non-white peoples, are how race became such a factor to begin with.

The initial claim by the oppressors, followed a moral imperative (so they said) that people outside of Occidental and European birth were in savage and cursed conditions, and that God justified the captivity of these people, and the rape and pillage of their lands.

Ironically, these oppressors would try to discard this same God, who supposedly justified this brutality, in the name of Darwin, whose famous line ‘survival of the fittest’ was used to justify criminal behavior once the Bible could no longer be used as a hiding place for economic domination and evil intention.

Spirituality and morality were replaced by capitalism, and with it a conscious shift of focus toward the exploitation of the vulnerable.

In order to justify reverse racism one would have to first create an even playing field, undo the generations of torture, terror, and brutality, and then judge whether or not a non-white person is in fact a racist. This approach would require people to examine the need/addiction to feel superior to someone else for no justifiable reason, and the myriad policies: Spiritual, political and social, that it bore. True dominion is self evident and not the result of sabotaging another in order to achieve it. That would be an illegitimate as well as a fleeting position. The Universe, will eventually seek to right/balance itself.

Of course there are white people who live transcendent lives, not exploiting ill-gotten privilege or perpetuating the sins of their ancestors who used violence and deceit as a means to gain advantage over others. Humanity in proper order is obligated to acknowledge the Truth, whoever it comes from, be they Black, White or other. Righteous indignation is simply a response to long-standing evil.

Much of the world is still reeling from the abuses of Imperialist selfishness, misunderstanding, ignorance and greed. Black people remain in many ways a shattered community, disenfranchised, forcefully removed from context and still caged in, denied from making truly independent choices and experiencing existential freedom. Their natural homes, just like their natural selves, raped and pillaged of the resources and gifts God has given to them. Interpreted through someone else’s slanted lens and filter, they remain in many ways, misrepresented. Taxation without proper representation, might I remind you, was the very platform of protest that began the Revolutionary War, which gained this country its independence from England. Anger is not only the natural response to the abuse of power, but is also appropriate when there is no real acknowledgment of these abuses, or deep, meaningful and profound change.

If we took all of what we deem horrible regarding the criminal abuses that black people have committed over this country’s history, and add it all up, it still does not compare to the hundreds of years of terrorism, violent domination, theft, rape, abuse, captivity, and beyond that black people have suffered under the ideologies and systems of white supremacy, racism, and slave based paradigms. I say this only to say that abuse unresolved begets or creates abuse. How then does the chief offender become the judge? Might does not necessarily mean right. Right is right. People forcibly reduced to sub-human existences, so that they behave in sub-human ways, helps a system to justify itself or feel less guilty about its blood saturated foundation and gross crimes against humanity. People, like plants, grow where the light is. When you enclose a plant and limit its light source, it will bend itself toward the light, for the light is necessary for its survival. This same thing happens to people locked in communities where little light and little opportunity is allowed them, survival then forces them to twist and/or bend toward the only way of escape.

There is good. And I both acknowledge and encourage the good. Instead of throwing out the Baby with the bath water, we do well to expose the intentionally poisoned water the Baby has been forced to soak in since its origin in these lands. America’s particular brand of hypocrisy is gross (double entendre).

I shuddered during sentencing when I kept hearing the term ‘make the IRS whole’… make the IRS whole, knowing that I got into these very circumstances having to deal with the very energies of inequity and resistance that created and perpetuated these savage inequalities. The entire time, I thought, who has made black people whole?! Who has made recompense for stealing, imposing, lying, murdering, criminalizing the traumatized, taking them against their wills, destroying their homes, dividing their communities, ‘trying’ to steal their destinies, their time, stagnating their development, I could go on and on. Has America, or any of the nations of the world guilty of these atrocities, ever made black people or Africa whole or do they continue to sit on them, control them, manipulate them, cage them, rob them, brutalize them, subject them to rules that don’t apply to all? Use language, veiled coercion, and psychological torment like invisible fences to keep them locked into a pattern of limitation and therefore control by others. You have to remain focused to cease from rage.

The prosecutor, who was a woman, made a statement during sentencing about me not doing any charity work for a number of years during my ‘exile.’ A) Charity work is not a requirement, but something done because someone wants to. I was clearly doing charitable works way before other people were even thinking about it. And B) Even the judge had to comment that she, meaning I, was both having and raising children during this period. As if that was not challenging enough to do. She sounded like the echo of the grotesque slave master, who expected women to give birth while in the field, scoop the Baby up, and then continue to work. Disgusting.

When you are beaten and penalized for being independent, or truly self reliant, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with self-reliance, and a fear of true independence. When you are beaten or threatened with death for trying to read a book, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with education. When families are broken up by force and threat of violence, then the family structure becomes dysfunctional. When men who would naturally defend their women and families are threatened with castration and death, then this natural response also becomes dysfunctional. When looking at the oppressor is punishable by violence, then examination of him and his system becomes a difficult and taboo thing to do, despite every bone in your body demanding it. When questioning or opposing oppression is punishable by death, imprisonment, or economic assassination, then opposing systemic wrong in any or all of its meta manifestations is a terrifying concept. Anyone forced to live so incredibly diametrically opposed to that which is natural to themselves, will end up in crisis if they don’t successfully find a way to improve or transcend these circumstances! All of which require healing. It is only by the Grace of God and the resilience of the people that things haven’t been worse.

Much of my music, if not all of it, is about Love, a therapeutic resolve created in response to the lack of messages encouraging people like me toward free moral agency. Helping to ameliorate this condition has never been addressed through the political arena alone. It is a sacrificial work that doesn’t simply happen between the hours of 9 to 5 or Monday through Friday, but when inspiration leads us to avail ourselves for the Truth that needs to be said. Unlike the system too often contrarily demonstrates, we believe that people can be and should be helped, and that trauma should not be criminalized but acknowledged, healed and dealt with. This takes awareness, sensitivity and a level of freedom in my opinion the system lacks. And if we don’t know or understand how to do it, then we humbly refer to a higher authority.

We have no desire to create humanoids, turn people into machines, or dumb them down so that they remain dependent longer than necessary to an antiquated system in denial of its many inadequacies and need to evolve. Instead we seek to educate and shed light on the snares, traps, and enticements that people set up in the name of business that are intended only to catch the sleeping and/or uninformed.

Why would a system, ‘well intentioned’, wait until breakdown or incarceration to consider rehabilitation, after generations of institutionally inflicted trauma and abuse on a people? To me it is obvious that the accumulation of generational trauma and abuse have created the very behaviors the system tries to punish, by providing no sufficient outlets for the victims of institutional terror. Clearly, the institution seeks to hide its own criminal history at the expense and wholeness of the abused, who ‘acting out’ from years of abuse and mistreatment, reflect the very aggression that they were exposed to.

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38 Comments

  1. JoJoAgape

    Well Said!

    [Reply]

  2. dee

    Just the first line turned me off. Cant read the rest…
    “Most, if not all of the negative responses from people of color toward white people, are reactions to the hatred, violence, cruelty and brutality that they were shown by white people for centuries”
    Why lump yourself in a category to hate another? White people alive today especially white youth have NOTHING to do with this. Many that I know actually find it too painful to even talk about. So to justify hatred towards “white people” for that is in my opinion ignorant.

    [Reply]

    Deejay Reply:

    @dee, EXACTLY!! I love Lauryn Hill but you do not speak for me, my generation, or my race in general.
    Reverse-racism in the year 2013 IS WRONG! Racism is wrong period. Don’t make attempts to justify it. Because that in turn could open the flood gates of white people’s hatred and resentment again. Why refuel a fire that’s already close to extinguishing???
    “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind”

    [Reply]

    Roger Reply:

    @Deejay, So blacks should stay in the slave shack and be quiet because massa might here them? You sound like an uncle Tom…

    [Reply]

    ras Reply:

    @Deejay, i agree you do sound like an uncle. and lol @ close to extinguishing. how naive can one person be. i dont know how things are up there in you ivory tower but down on the ground people are being racially abused everyday. get a grip

    [Reply]

    Jay Reply:

    @Deejay, @Dee Y’all for real? Y’all may want to really focus on those words Lauryn wrote and in the context which she wrote it, that means reading the WHOLE DAMN PASSAGE. She is not saying it is OK to be racist toward people who are not black as payback, but rather any action that may seem like it is natural reaction to how we HAVE BEEN TREATED FOR CLOSE TO HALF A MILLENIUM (and it’s still happening). She is not justifying it but rather letting the world know it’s an issue of CAUSE & EFFECT, the action has already taken place and still is, so with that comes the effect & inevitble consequence! Truth hurts, but she is only echoing a sentiment which has been disregarded since day one.

    [Reply]

    MonkeyMan Reply:

    @Jay, Well said! People need to really read and process the key message before they comment.

    @Deejay and @Dee are a reflection of this uneducated generation. Lack of training and no substance. What a mess!

    [Reply]

    Devine Reply:

    @Deejay, you are so naive!!!!!! I guess the reason why a young black boy was shot and his shooter got away with it,the media down play his death, act soccer games in Europe…black players get bananas thrown at them,when some blacks move around 98% whites….blacks get their homes trashed. I could go on and on.

    [Reply]

  3. what?? this is ignorant

    slavery is NOT something i take lightly in fact it is very hard for me to EVEN THINK about it so to fucking act like all white people are grimacing over it is fucking disgusting. disgusting. if i EVER heard someone say something like that in person i would LOSE IT. LOSE IT.

    [Reply]

  4. jerral

    dee, if you didn’t read then you can’t really comment. What she wrote is not about justifying black hate. She’s talking about corrupt systems and how they effect people. I think..

    Anyway, it seems Lauryn Hill is just saying whatever the hell she wants to these days. lol

    [Reply]

  5. ignorance

    will never listen to her again. she is shaming the black community. this is pure ignorance. cant even tolerate it. SHE is keeping racism alive. pay your taxes.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    @ignorance, your name suits you.. just ignorant!

    Did you even read it? Can you comprehend words?

    [Reply]

    denise Reply:

    @ignorance, hi, Troll.

    [Reply]

    Dman Reply:

    @ignorance, I hear you.. she smoking tht glass pipe before she gets locked up.. Bia pay your taxes and skeep your racial comments to to yourself.

    [Reply]

  6. Grace

    She’s telling the truth and the simple-minded fools will never understand.

    [Reply]

    MonkeyMan Reply:

    @Grace, AMEN! Perfect description…SIMPLE-MINDED people.

    Lack of understanding!

    [Reply]

  7. Ashgino

    I refuse to read this Lauren hill book unless its autobiography on her life post miseducation. Someone summarize this letter please….I cant

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    @Ashgino, You’re stupid. I’m ashamed for your parents.

    [Reply]

    Ashgino Reply:

    @Chris, why can’t u read lauryn for what she really is,,.. A dDAMN SHAME. she just can’t admit that she is mental and doesn’t realize a commercial album or even underground is her best asset instead of all this mess better yet an Oprah interview…..

    [Reply]

  8. Chris

    @ignorance- your name suits you.. just ignorant!

    Did you even read it? Can you comprehend words?

    [Reply]

  9. Lost1wons

    This bitch need to have several seats in her jail cell,ohh it’s not Independence Day yet from this fraud hoe. She better make her last appearance before jail on Sundays BET Awards.

    [Reply]

  10. PayUrTaxes

    That’s sufficient enough to make her capitalist fascism views via the biggest horde of exploitation of blacks via BET

    [Reply]

  11. Lukas

    millions of women have birth and continue working. and i dont care who you are when you are making millions you should give back.

    sorry lauryn i really respect you, but this is just wrong.

    i you are living off the people’s money, you must give back to the people.

    [Reply]

  12. Word

    I am appalled at some of these ignorant comments. Your comments confirm that the notions stated in this letter are true and relevant. Many of you are so trapped and beguiled by senseless and misguided tales that you have hindered your ability to recognize when truth is before you. The most important question is in the words of Ms. Hill, if the system is so “well intentioned,’ why rehabilitate after breakdown and incarceration? It’s unfortunate that many of us turn a blind eye to injustice until it’s at our front doorstep and affects us directly. The prison industry is on the stock market.. there’s more money to be made off of the backs of prisoners than there is by providing them proper education and viable resources within their community before they become prisoners. Lastly, you call her a bitch and hoe; I’ll respond by saying look in the mirror. You say she needs to make a pop album; I’ll respond by saying there are many pop albums full of senseless tales for purchase as we speak. Since your mind is obviously incapable of comprehending words with more than one syllable, let alone a combination of words that completes a sentence and forms a logical thought pattern, you might want to consider taking a logical reasoning or critical thinking class. Kids, the mind is a terrible thing to waste, reading is fundamental, and don’t believe everything that you read or see—study to show thyself approved. Lauryn, may you continue to be blessed by the most high.

    [Reply]

    Jon.K Reply:

    @Word, that was beautifully written. I concede with your retort, as with the acute candor of Ms. Hill’s words. That said there is much to lament over, for those who bathe in the fusillade of ignorance or rather are thralled by it.

    May verisimilitude, never be restricted to any of you.

    [Reply]

    keep it real Reply:

    @Jon.K, you do not need to convey your intelligence by using complex language. It’s not about using a thesaurus for every word you write LOL. This isn’t ignorance and I’m not writing this because I don’t understand you, but I just feel like you and the guy/girl above are just reaching to echo that letter and appear supposedly superior to others on here :/

    [Reply]

  13. rose

    What is the Ethiopians church stance on having children out if wedlock, Lauryn?
    Have a seat with your hateful & bigoted mind! Fucking hypocrite trying to be slick with that tumblr talk… check YOUR privilege miss thing!

    [Reply]

  14. muzikxxxx

    She is comparing a remark about charity to a slave working in a field? She is really grasping at straws at this point.

    [Reply]

  15. as

    Yet she has the right to be homophobic on her latest track? Crazy-ass bitch.

    [Reply]

  16. Dman

    Those who shall speak on race to overturn the overturned Comite sin while doing so. That glass pipe cloud is loud and mass wihile gatherIing bigger clouds as it rolls down a hill collecting and provoking others to think that she is real or acting like this but in yhe end she is a broke ass! Haha bia pay your taxes and stop messing with people minds we all know officially yours is stock in the late 80s early 90s.. Crack ant cool

    [Reply]

  17. Righteous

    Still a fcuk!ng homophobe though!

    [Reply]

  18. EL

    “When you are beaten and penalized for being independent, or truly self reliant, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with self-reliance, and a fear of true independence. When you are beaten or threatened with death for trying to read a book, then you develop a dysfunctional relationship with education. When families are broken up by force and threat of violence, then the family structure becomes dysfunctional. When men who would naturally defend their women and families are threatened with castration and death, then this natural response also becomes dysfunctional. When looking at the oppressor is punishable by violence, then examination of him and his system becomes a difficult and taboo thing to do, despite every bone in your body demanding it. When questioning or opposing oppression is punishable by death, imprisonment, or economic assassination, then opposing systemic wrong in any or all of its meta manifestations is a terrifying concept.”

    THIS! The profundity of it all.

    As Cee-Lo Green said years ago: “I’ve finally come to the realization why Black people are in the worse place.
    Cuz it’s hard to correct yourself, when you don’t know who you are in the first place.”

    [Reply]

    MX Reply:

    @EL, I’ll quote you something from Malcolm X’s Autobiography (pg 356) “‘My black brothers and sisters – no one will know who we are … until we know who we are! We never will be able to go anywhere until we know where we are!’” – if you get a chance, and haven’t already, pick it up its a great read and insight into a great mind, but also some of the issues STILL facing black people the world over.

    [Reply]

  19. Blue21 Party (he ain't Ready)

    Very well said Lauryn hill

    [Reply]

  20. DEKSEL

    Very Very Very Well Written. I wonder how you feel such anger when you where born and bread in the states?. Thanks for knowing and sharing. I wish blacks out there will start finding their roots back to Africa to rather invest all the money they make here(Africa) than to invest it out there and loose it all again. If you were born in Africa-Ghana and you know a bit about our history, you will get furious and angry as Lauryn is. Really, the ”whites” took most of our God Given Natural Resources to develop their country, with that not being enough, they enslaved our ancestors, threw some into the sea and ocean and brutally maltreated the ones who were lucky to make it to that place. Cant write much but i know the World will seek its Balance as Lauryn said. It will soon come.

    [Reply]

  21. Jlee

    After reading this,I’m embarrassed to day you were my inspiration growing up.You are just as close minded as a racist.You are still pushing the race issue to the forefront,and working extremely hard to sound like an intelligent intellectual.Not many even care enough to make it an issue anymore.Must we keep kicking the dying embers to create a fire?It’s a beautiful thing Mr.King envisioned,but he dreamed us all as equal.Not hate on hate.You are an empowered free young beautiful strong black woman who has accomplished so many wonderful things.And then speak with such bitterness and ugliness.Feeding ignorance with strong & powerful words to fall on impressionable minds.We live in a time now where oppression is on the brink of being a word in the past and racism will only be read in history books in a century.It starts with you or myself to make it so for our children,and our children’s children.I am disappointed the words from an evil tongue come from the voice that sounded as an angel.What message is your words sending the children who look to us for guidance?

    [Reply]

  22. Jlee

    And by the way,racism still does happen,but that us because some people can’t put down their silver swords (tongues)that stem from bitter hearts long enough to recognize the changes that are beautiful and pave for our future generations.Not trying to sound hypocritical but positive thinking is hard when people’s feeling are hurt by words.We are all human.One Love!

    [Reply]

  23. Carl Finesse

    Cant believe the idiocy levels of some of these comments I’ve been reading. Every word Lauryn wrote in this passage is the undeniable truth and anyone who disagrees is truly uneducated or dis attached from the realms of reality concerning cultural differences. Cant even be bothered to go deeper into it apart from hailing Mrs Hill as i should and I for one stand by everyone word written. There was no racially aggravated comments in her passage just simply the truth powerfully and eloquently put.

    [Reply]

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