Trigger Warning with Killer Mike (2019) s01e01 Episode Script

Living Black

1 I'm Michael Render, but you may know me as Killer Mike.
[Both] Please welcome - Killer Mike.
- Killer Mike.
- Killer Mike.
- [Cheering] I'm a Grammy award-winning rapper, and one half of the Grammy-nominated hip-hop duo Run The Jewels.
That's my partner, El-P.
He's white.
We'll call him an ally.
I'm also an activist.
I'm not here to talk about a dream that we think is unattainable, so we settle for less.
And my ideas are often controversial.
If you're African-American, tyranny is happening now.
If a soldier or a cop can own a version of an AR-15, I'm not comfortable in a country where I'm being asked to de-arm and they are not.
But rap is what made me millions of dollars, gave me a lifestyle beyond my wildest dreams, and the ability to create a string of successful barbershops across Atlanta.
In fact, we're filmin' in one right now.
So how the fuck did I end up here, wandering the streets in the dead of night, with nowhere to sleep but this lonely-ass park bench? When I was young, I spent a lot of time with my grandpa, which led to a lot of great talks and a lot of heated debates.
I was young so I thought desegregation was the end of the freedom fight and black people had finally achieved what we wanted.
To be able to sit at a counter and drink water next to white people.
My grandpa told me that, before desegregation, black people had to deal with one another.
If you went to a dentist, he was black.
If you went to a doctor, likely you'd have a black doctor.
If you wanted food, you went to a black store.
So, from top to bottom, the ecosystem, from a dollar perspective, stayed black, hence we had a true black working class, a true black middle class, we could send kids off to college.
Now, 54 years post segregation, I wanna know how difficult it is to truly live in the black economy.
So for the next three days leading up to my show in Athens, Georgia, I'm living totally black.
So the idea is every single thing that you're going to use, eat, consume is going to be black-owned.
I think that the black community can do a better job of keeping the dollar in our ecosystem longer.
Studies have shown that, in America, the Asian community can keep a dollar 28 days before they release it out.
They've shown that Jewish and white communities keep a dollar 21 and 23 days, and for the African-American community, six hours.
Have you ever heard of anybody trying to do this before? Well, like, my grandparents here, that's how they used to live.
You mean they used to buy from only black businesses? Mm-hmm.
There was a reason for that that was - Yeah, segregation.
- not a good reason.
But you look at segregation, even though it was a bad thing, economically, we were better, because you had to shop and deal with each other based on being segregated from the greater society.
So you turned the dollar in your community more.
Once you go there and, like, most black people are buying white-owned food, white-owned businesses, like, it's hard to go back.
I think there's something black for everything.
That seems fucking impossible.
- [Laughing] - So, like Okay, so, like, you can't use any of these glasses.
No fucking Breyers ice cream.
No Coca-Cola.
This is the whitest fridge I've ever seen.
- Fuck you, man.
- [Both laughing] No TV, no music.
- Not even BET? - Where do you get your weed from? Black guy, and I get it also from a white girl, but she got a black husband, so - Where does his weed come from? - Northern California! I'm just guessing it's probably a white-owned business.
Unless you have a straight Jamaican connection, you have to abstain from that too.
Yeah, and I don't want to sound like Trump but I ain't gonna smoke no Mexican weed.
Basically, you need food, shelter, transportation, clothes, so I don't know if it's possible, to be honest.
If you were staying in Atlanta, I would just totally agree with you 'cause you could just have someone pick you up, go down the block, you could just hang out here.
But you have a concert in three days in Athens, Georgia.
But it's three fuckin' days! It can't be so hard that three days will defeat me.
["Sarabande" by Handel playing] To kick this off, I went to speak with an expert on buyin' black.
And since all my cars are made by a bunch of white companies, I had to walk my ass across town.
- Reef.
- What's going on, man? - What up, boy? - Everything good? I came down here 'cause WeBuyBlack.
com is usually my go-to to find out what I can get.
You guys provide black people with one-stop shopping in terms of what black products are out there for them and how to keep our dollar in their community.
Don't put your dollar with Colgate.
Don't put your dollar with Tide and Gain.
Put your dollar in the black community.
We Buy Black was originally, and still is, a social project.
Like, what you got for me today? Hopefully, this will help you get through.
Yeah, I hope so, man.
I mean, I know I'll have clean face and hands and my butt'll be clean and I'll have clean boxers.
[Both] Brush your teeth black.
- Wipe your butt black.
- Butt black.
I got a show in Athens.
I can't get any of this stuff in Athens I would imagine.
I don't know if any stores carry any of these products in Athens.
Another problem I have is, like, my phone's an Apple.
I got somethin' for you, man.
It's a black-owned cell phone company.
This is the Figgers telephone company.
Check that out, man.
- There's got to be a problem.
- No, I'm serious! Open it up.
- A Figger phone.
- Yeah.
That's actually his last name.
So it ain't a play on "niggas".
That's his actual - His real name.
- His actual name.
You turn it on and connect to the service.
All of that's black-owned.
I don't know how to get around.
I haven't found a black car company yet, but we tryin'.
You probably need You drive a bike? ["Sarabande" by Handel playing] Hey! Beautiful space.
- Praise God, man.
- Absolutely.
Thank you very much, man.
This is our little bike shop/community center.
What's historic about bein' in this neighborhood, though? This is where black Muslims, black Rastafarians, black Christians - Absolutely.
- All live in this neighborhood.
- So - It's a sacred space too.
Shawn, you look like a brilliant young brother.
What makes you decide you want to sling bikes? The complaint was, the kids don't have anything to do because all the gyms have been closed down.
There's no recreation centers.
And so I created a bike shop that incentivized kids to do community service in return for bicycles.
- So you're recycling old bikes? - Yep.
- Yep.
- You're teaching youth a skill? - Absolutely.
- That's genius! This is proactive, this work.
- Let's ride, brother.
- Let's ride.
[Laughs] I like this one.
- I like it for you too, man.
- It looks bad-ass, too.
It's like a sturdy, Frankenstein, get you where you need to go.
- Looks like it could hold a fat guy.
- [Laughs] - Hey, I ain't tryin' to say that but - That's - It looks like a road warrior.
- I think it's got a killer vibe to it.
- That's what I'm sayin'.
- Like it.
- It looks a little like it's thuggin'.
- There we go.
- Before I get out of here - Yes.
I know we're not in the Rastafarian community, but do you know any Jamaicans? 'Cause I can't buy Northern Californian 'cause white people grow it.
[Sighs] Um I don't.
["Sarabande" by Handel playing] [Shawn] Hope you enjoy the bike, man.
[Mike] After walkin' and bikin' all over Atlanta, I seriously needed to recharge.
So, on my bike ride home, I made a pit stop at one of my favorite locally-owned black businesses.
[Rap music playing] What up, cuz? What up, cuz? What up, cuz? What up, cuz? What up? Black nightlife has brought people together since the days of jazz, and the Blue Flame still does that to this day.
It's black-owned, with black customers, and mostly black employees, which means the dollar stays in the black community because of this particular club.
Thank you, Heaven.
I don't know what I owe you, but that should be enough.
Hey, how you doin'? No racism, but you're Asian, and I'm only spendin' money in the black community for the next three days, so You ain't black.
What up, cuz? What up, cuz? What up, cuz? What up, cuz? What up, cuz? What up, cuz? What up? ["Sarabande" by Handel playing] [Mike] My own kitchen was a black food desert.
And I was hungry as fuck.
I'm tryin' to live within the black economy for three days.
- Yes, sir.
- And I got hungry, and then I realized we don't own grocery stores unless I'm talkin' about this grocer's.
This is the black grocery store in Atlanta right now.
- Yes, sir.
- So I'mma definitely get some beans.
- Gets black beans.
You gotta get some.
- Gotta get some black beans.
- [Abdul] Carrots.
That's good for you.
- [Mike] So, soap? - Black soap.
Black company.
- African shea butter.
So these fruit and vegetables are fresh.
- From black farms? - Fresh.
From black farms.
This is from the Nation of Islam's farm? That's right.
Muhammad's farm.
From the farm, straight to the shelf.
I figured if anyone could live as close to totally black, it has to be my Muslim brothers and sisters, in particular Nation of Islam.
- Yes, sir.
- It seems that, in my readings of what Elijah Muhammad said, a lot of it was, he didn't discredit other communities.
Not at all.
And he told us, "Study the white man.
He's successful in his endeavors.
" The Hidden Hand would say that we hate everybody else but us.
- Yeah.
- That's not true.
- Not true.
- We just love ourselves better.
- Yeah, we know racism in this country.
- It exists! But it's classism, it's economically based.
- Right.
- We know that the prison population, that's free labor, that's slavery.
We have rich slaves.
- Yeah.
- Now that's controversial.
- Yeah.
- But prove me wrong.
The one benefit from this thing is I can't smoke marijuana - because white people grow it, so - [Chuckles] I've been very sober, I've been very sad.
Kind of bikin' around Atlanta, but I'm hungry.
- I'll be back early and often.
- All right.
Thank you.
Thank you all now.
["Sarabande" by Handel playing] Now it was time to head to Athens, but there was no way I was bikin' 75 miles with a sack of cans.
So I had to catch the only ride I could.
You are one of the bus companies I've grown up with my entire life, and you're an institution in Atlanta.
It's a very unusual thing, I'm sad to say, to see a black man own a bus company.
Do you try to live within the black economy? If I gotta buy tires for this particular coach, I'mma find a black company to purchase them from.
Gotcha.
Gotcha.
If I buy fuel, that's very limited.
- For sure.
- But you always make the effort.
- Exactly.
- So this is a standard church bus so - Standard church bus.
- I can't smoke weed on this one, - and lay out at the back on the bed? - [All laughing] Can't have two white women there with me.
Well, we we hope you don't fire the weed up, 'cause you might get the driver high.
First 48 hours I've been sober in a long time.
Thank you.
I'm finna get my black butt to Athens.
Well, thank you.
And Mr.
Bode will be glad to take you to Athens.
- Absolutely, Mr.
Mike.
- Thank you, Mr.
Bode.
At this point in my career, I should probably be chartering a private jet or at least a helicopter to the show.
But here I am alone, on a giant church bus.
And I didn't even have a black-made can opener to eat any of my beans.
Take care, Mike.
Hungry.
Thirsty.
And more sober than I've ever been in my adult life.
Everything in this strange town is a reflection of shit I can't enjoy.
No food.
No weed.
And no black-owned hotel in sight.
Was I sufferin' from white economy withdrawal? [Sighs] I haven't found a black hotel here, or black restaurant.
I'm hungry, I just wanna go to bed.
- Got a black girlfriend? - I don't have a black girlfriend.
Where do black people eat here when they wanna go to a black people restaurant? Subway.
- Do black people own that Subway? - I doubt it.
- Probably not.
All right.
- I doubt it.
I doubt it.
[Guitar playing] Gonna give my woman a ride home Get them on, get rad You're the king, you're a bon vivant Get down, down Get down, baby Let me make it rain for you New rain in me Rain in me Hey! A question, brother.
Any black-owned restaurants around here? - I'm hungry, brother.
I'm just - Uhh - Hell, no.
- I'm livin' black for three days.
- Sure enough? - Yeah, brother, I gotta eat.
- Yeah, man.
- I'm so hungry I could eat that guitar.
Oh! - Get back to the guitar.
- All right.
All right! - I been livin' black.
- Yeah.
Come on, man.
- This shit is wack.
- On the street, we have I can't find no sack.
I was too tired to figure out if a public park bench counts as black-owned.
But I pay taxes and black people built this fucking country.
So I figure I'll just crash here for the night.
[Thunder rumbling] I was starving and wet, but my partner El-P arrived in town, so we met up in one of Athens' few black-owned restaurants.
[Sighs] It was time to fuck up some barbecue.
- What up? - Peace.
How you feelin', man? - I feel like I slept on a park bench.
- I slept on a king-size bed.
- Are you hungry? - [Laughs] Um Yeah, please, man, I want everything.
I think you ought to go with that sampler platter.
He look like the type of man.
That way he'll get a bit of everything.
I'll take greens and yams with mine.
I'll take banana pudding.
- All right.
Be up in just one second.
- Man - I ain't eaten.
- Here you go.
Black-owned restaurant.
Black-owned, baby.
Pro black.
Black-owned produce and, and meat, probably, right, from a black farm? What's up? - Excuse me, sir.
- Yes, sir? My white friend just reminded me I'm livin' so black, that I'm technically only supposed to eat meat from a black farm, or produce.
Please tell me this came from the West Georgia Black Farmers Collaborative or No, it didn't.
May I get a to go box, please? You're a good man, Michael Render, and I gotta be honest with you [Whispers] This shit is amazing.
It's really, really, honestly some of the best barbecue that I've ever had.
Why are you still eating in front of me? It's just, at the hotel room that I was in last night, some of the room service You know, the the lobster, um - You ate lobster? - I had a lobster roll.
- I was on a park bench.
- Yeah.
That is the literal definition of white privilege.
- Yeah.
- How's the macaroni? Mm.
The only weed I've been able to find has been trashy-ass Mexican weed, which I can't smoke 'cause it's Mexican.
Weed dealers aren't white.
- You can get - The growers are white.
Aah! - Like, you guys gentrified marijuana.
- Yeah, we're an unstoppable force.
- That's what all the books say.
- Yeah.
I gotta at least find a black-owned farm, or somethin'.
Is that your only hope eating tonight? Yeah, that's it.
I mean, I gotta find black food.
Well, we're doin' a show.
So, are you making an exception for me? - I mean, is this - No, you're black! - I'm in a black business.
- Yeah.
50 percent.
- Good to go.
- We qualify for many government grants.
- Okay! - We're the Barack Obama of business.
That was real messed up.
I couldn't fuckin' eat in a black restaurant.
Oh, it was delicious.
[Mike] I needed to get my swag together before tonight's show.
Luckily, I stumbled upon a barbershop.
Hey, how y'all doin'? Strange question, but is this a black business? - One and only.
- What's this? This is a historic area, right, we're in? It's Hot Corner.
- Hot Corner.
- Downtown Athens, Georgia.
This is the traditional business section of downtown Athens.
So this is Is this like the African-American section of the business section? Oh, yeah.
Yeah.
I haven't been able to find a lot of black businesses here.
What happened? When I was comin' up, on this corner, at one time, it was 66 black businesses down here.
You are a walking history book.
I definitely came to the right shop.
See, back then, the money, it went around one time - Yeah.
- in the black community.
All the white community want They want it to go round two or three times.
Because we aren't focused on our dollar, our whole community - seems to be suffering.
- Yes.
And you guys cut white people hair, black people hair.
We cut hair.
So a black business doesn't mean it just serves black people.
Oh, no.
Ever heard of something called a Green Book? Apparently it was a book that black motorists would buy so when they were traveling through areas, especially in the South, they would find out where black hotels were, where black barbershops and restaurants and stuff were.
- Have you heard of that book? - I heard of it.
- But I've never seen one.
- I I would like to see a Green Book of sorts start again.
I didn't know where to get a haircut in Athens.
Now I know.
Of course, I'll tell all my friends, you know what I mean? - Yeah.
We appreciate that.
- And if I ever get some food, I'll tell them where black people can actually get food at.
I was starving, but work comes first.
We had a radio interview to promote tonight's show.
So food was gonna have to wait.
Thanks, guys.
I really appreciate you being on Athens 441.
It's a big deal for us, and welcome to the 706.
[Whispering] Uh, my friend has communicated to me um, he's living black.
Uh So I I can communicate to you what Mike thinks.
Um, but you cannot communicate to him directly.
I'm sorry.
So, how weird was it to be on the red carpet and just being in that whole Grammy experience? [Whispers] Shit was cool.
Shit was cool.
But can you ask Mike what he thinks about the - DNC and Bernie Sanders? - [El-P] Yeah, um [Whispers] If I started my own country.
If Mike were to start his own country, - which is always on the table - Okay.
he would hire him as a consultant on how to set the institution up from the jump.
[Whispers] 'Cause he fucks with the OG the long way.
Cause he fucks with the OG the long way.
Thank you, guys, for taking the time to be on Athens 441.
Really appreciate it.
Thank you so much, man.
 We're really, uh, lookin' forward to it, man.
Thanks, Athens.
Thanks for your patience - in these unusual circum - Here.
Hold on a second, I'm sorry.
Okay.
Yeah, I'd like to give you a firm handshake.
It's actually transferred directly from Killer Mike - Excellent.
- with all the love and empathy a man would have if he could deal directly with a white person.
- Okay.
Great! - [Clears throat] - Excellent.
Thanks again.
- Cool.
[Mike] There's a black farm here called Broad Street.
What do you want to do? Imma hit Shall I just hit an Uber? I can't use Uber 'cause black people don't make cars.
- So, uh - It's not that far.
We could walk, though.
I mean, we're talkin'.
Be cool.
Yeah, yeah Yeah, I'm with you.
I'm with you.
Fifty years ago, the West Broad school church and community center was the only option young black kids had to get a decent education in Athens.
Today, it was my last hope for finding anything to eat.
This is a traditional historical African-American community, meaning that there were black homeowners here.
This is a black school and people have a great sense of pride within it.
In fact, we host a farmers' market every year that brings back the alumni who went to this school and we celebrate the legacy that the school has left behind.
So, basically, this is the center of the community, - the place where the community gathers.
- Mm-hmm.
- Farms - Right.
- Businesses here.
- Right.
Just like the "Beloved Community" of Dr.
King.
- Absolutely.
Absolutely.
- You know? [Chuckles] You wanna meet, um, the queen of this place here, Miss Ethel? - Absolutely, I wanna meet Miss Ethel.
- Great.
We can walk right to her house.
- Let's do it.
- She pretty much manages the gardens.
- Really? - All of these beds that you see, she double digs herself by hand with a pitchfork.
- How old is Miss Ethel? - She's 83.
- Does she cook? I'm hungry.
- She does.
She has a fantastic business called Soul Food With A Twist.
Thank you! And so she uses food grown here or at our other garden Black people grew the food! I can eat it! - Yes! - Thank you.
I think she'll be happy to make a nice meal for you.
She probably already has something on the stove 'cause she's always cooking.
Miss Ethel? Y'all ready? I brought some guests.
Come on in here, 'cause I did the best I could here at the last minute.
- See? - Oh, that's cornbread.
- Cornbread.
- Wow.
- That's real cornbread, it ain't Jiffy.
- Real cornbread, not Jiffy.
- Oh, man, this is - Not Jiffy.
Baked chicken breast, okay? - This is the top of the day.
- Yes! This is your collard greens.
- Yes, ma'am.
- What can we do to help? You can serve yourselves.
In des Lebens Frühlingstagen Ist das Glück von mir geflohn! Do you mind if I eat this how I eat cornbread for real? I ain't gotta use no fork? - Of course! - Okay.
Thank you.
- I'm sorry, this - Now you goin' down home, boy.
- Well So look - Look! So that's what you do down home! My first day at kindergarten, they served they served collard greens, cornbread.
- They did? - Yeah, because my people from Alabama, you don't eat collard greens with cornbread with a fork, you eat it with your hand.
- So - Mm-hm.
I literally just went back to bein' five, thank you.
I know that's right.
So you're old enough to remember a time when black people grew their own food.
I wasn't old enough to remember it, I was right there.
I was there! I was right there with my parents! - You were growing, you were picking - Of course you did, yeah! What happened? Like, why did we stop doin' that? Because I wanted to live totally black for three days, right? - Mm-hmm.
- Then I started running into problems because the black stores I'm going in to buy product, many of them didn't carry black farm produce.
And so, what I'm learning at the end of this is it really is about how to reconnect my community.
- Yeah.
- And how, once reconnected, my community benefits not only us, but the bigger community.
I think this country is better - when the black community is strong.
- Right.
You need to get up and do what you need to do to support yourself and your family and your community.
- Thank you so much.
- Mm-hmm.
[Cheering] You guys have a place called the Hot Corner here, right? That place used to be the center of black business in this town, and everybody shopped there.
Everybody, not just black people.
But it was a successful economic atmosphere, and I tried for the last three days to recreate that and it was very difficult.
So make sure that you support a business, you communicate with people who don't look like you, you grow new friendships and we end that racist bullshit - the slow and loving way.
- [Cheering and applause] - Mike? Mike, Mike, Mike! - What up, El? Guess what? Hold on.
Can I say this part, Mike, for you? - Yes.
- I'm very excited for my friend right now because he's been basically starving for the last couple of days.
Let's count it down.
Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, - Run The Jewels, one! - One! Thank you! [El-P] One [Band plays sleigh bells] It's a Christmas miracle! Put your hands in the air! Livin' black, even for just three days, was way more difficult than it should be.
If we want a return to the economic self-sustainability my grandfather spoke of during segregation, we have a long way to go.
But looking out over a sea of white faces that paid to see my show made me realize - it's not an impossibility.
- Put your hands in the air! 'Cause your protest signs and internet posts are nice, but what we need is for allies to put your money where your tweets are.
So, goin' forward, I need you all to make a pledge to turn all Fridays into Black Friday, where everyone makes a conscious effort to buy black and support a black-owned business at least once a week.
I know there's already Black Friday out there.
- But that one's bullshit.
- [Yelling] 'Cause I think it's more important to support black-owned businesses than it is to stand in a Walmart line at 5 a.
m.
, so you can save 50 bucks on an iPad.
Unless Freddie Figgers made that shit, my nigga.