"I've lived with racism my whole life," the country music star shared on TODAY

By Nicholas Rice
July 10, 2020 02:20 PM
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Darius Rucker is opening up and speaking out against racism — specifically as a Black artist in a predominantly white music genre.

Meeting with journalist Harry Smith on TODAY, the Hootie & the Blowfish frontman, 54, discussed racism and how his approach to it has changed in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

"I've lived with racism my whole life," the country music star shared. "It made me realize I can't keep living my life like everything's okay because everything is not okay."

Rucker added that he had come to accept racism as a simple fact of his life, sharing, "Really, you get to a point where you go, 'That's just how it is. When I was going to radio stations and you got guys telling me, 'We're not gonna play you 'cause you're a Black guy,' that's just the way it is.

He continued, "I can't live like that anymore. I can't just go, 'It's okay,' and go on with my life and let somebody say something that I know they shouldn't say."

And Rucker knows that there is a risk in becoming forthright about delicate issues within the country music genre, including his support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I'm sure I've already lost fans,'' he told TODAY, before adding, "You become a rich Black man and you think racism goes away. It doesn't. There's people that hate you more because you're rich."

"One sentence can end your career in country music," he shared. "Proven. Look at the Dixie Chicks, biggest thing in the business, they say one sentence, every station stops playing their music."

"That's the dumbest thing I ever heard in my life. You know, it wasn't about their politics, it was about their music."

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Rucker also notes that he hopes that the momentum currently sweeping the nation can be a turning point in achieving equality for all, regardless of race.

"It feels like so much of the country really wants some kind of change,'' he said. "Don't know what we're gonna do, don't know how we're gonna do it, but they want some kind of change. And so, for me, it feels different, and I hope I'm right."

Last month, the "Wagon Wheel" singer released a lengthy statement on Instagram where he shared that he's "been sitting here trying to figure out what I wanted to say," after Floyd's death while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers.

"This whole thing just really breaks me down to my core," he said. "My heart goes out to George Floyd, his family and friends, and to all those whose loved ones have been taken because of the color of their skin. No man should die that way. I cannot watch that without tears welling in my eyes and a raw feeling of pain. The men who did that should face the justice that is promised by our laws."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.