Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Van Jones on the Artists That Shaped His Politics, Working with Prince, Madonna’s Influence, Activism, and More

Van Jones - The Message*On the latest episode of The Message podcast on Apple Music 1, Ebro Darden is joined by CNN commentator Van Jones to discuss his The Message playlist, the need for prison reform, how artists like Bob Marley, Public Enemy, and Spike Lee helped inform his politics, his early days working with Prince, the impact and lessons to be learned by the Derek Chauvin verdict, Madonna’s influence, and much more.

Apple Music’s The Message is a series that aims to further the dialogue about the unrest and inequalities in the United States and abroad via intimate conversations with some of the most prominent voices in Black music today, who also create exclusive playlists of the songs inspiring them to keep pushing forward.

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Van Jones Shares His Message With Apple Music…

“My message is we need to close prison doors and open up doors of opportunity for the young people in our communities. We’ve spent so much money surveilling them, tracking them, policing them, incarcerating them, jailing them, tailing them when they’re on probation and parole. And so little money on scholarships, all the stuff we had when growing up, the youth programs and community centers that were full of activities and had budgets and stuff that made sense. And now, we don’t have that. And so we really need to move the money, from tearing our young people down to building our young people up.”

Van Jones Tells Apple Music About The Artists That Helped Inform His Politics…

“For me, my biggest awakening when college was when somebody handed me an audio cassette Survival, Bob Marley. Because that is his most political, revolutionary album. And it introduced me to revolutionary politics. It introduced me to Black politics. Up until then, Michael Jackson, Prince, whatever, it was all kind of subtle. It was in the mix. Bob Marley was coming with it. He was direct. And yet, he put it in a package where white folks would be dancing to it. I’m like, ‘Are you listening to these lyrics?’ I don’t know if you listened to the words. And so I give Bob Marley, I give Public Enemy, and Spike Lee a lot of credit. That was the trinity for me that got me political in the ’80s and set me up to come into the ’90s as a real warrior.”

Van Jones Tells Apple Music About His Early Days Working With Prince…

“This year marks the 5th anniversary of Prince’s death. And the last six or seven years of his life, I got a chance to work with him very closely. We did a lot of charitable philanthropic stuff. He helped to start Green for All, #YesWeCode, Rebuild the Dream, Dream Corps. A lot of the things I’m associated with. When you look at my resume, politically, what’s not on the resume is it was Prince’s money behind a lot of that stuff, making it go.”

Van Jones - The MessageVan Jones Tells Apple Music About Madonna’s Influence…

“You got to remember, I was born in 1968. If you put up a poster on your wall of Madonna, your mom might lose her mind. If you were a white kid, you put up a poster of Michael Jackson, your dad might tear it down. I mean we were fighting literally at the cultural level over gender expression, sexuality, race. And it was the kids versus the parents, and MTV was the enemy. MTV was this place where what the hell is going on? And your wall, the posters that you put up was your stand against the old guard trying to keep us back. But for me, Madonna is such a symbol of that. And now people have forgotten. She was on the front line of the kind of gender freedom we enjoy today.”

Van Jones Tells Apple Music About The Impact of the Derek Chauvin Verdict…

“First of all, had we lost, it would have been even more. In other words, if a white police officer can choke a Black man to death, lynch a Black man, that’s what it was. When a white man is choking the life out of a Black man, and the whole community’s standing around screaming, that is a lynching. So if a white police officer can lynch a Black man in broad daylight and the whole world sees it and the jury goes, “That’s okay,” well then, what can they not do to us? So you really had the humanity of a generation on trial. You had the ability of the system to recognize any kind of Black life’s value at all. A lot was on the line.”

Van Jones Tells Apple Music About The Lessons To Be Learned From The Derek Chauvin Trial…

“It took too long. Emmett Till murdered in the 50s didn’t get justice. Rodney King in the 90s didn’t get justice. Then you come up through all the way up to Breonna Taylor. So too long in coming, and the lesson should not be, “Well, the system worked this time.” No, the system did not work this time. It started out with a cover-up from the police department, putting out a fake press release about it saying it was just a medical incident. It started out with a local, racist corrupt prosecutor filing a worthless complaint that in no way was going to be successful in court. And then the people rose up, and said, ‘No way!’”
source: Sam Citron – [email protected]



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