Toki Wright speaks on this 'pick-a-side moment'

Toki Wright
(Nate Ryan | MPR Photo)
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Toki Wright speaks with Jill Riley
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Toki Wright has worn a lot of hats: artist, activist, The Current host, and most recently, educator; he spent years as the Department Head of Hip Hop Studies at McNally Smith and is now the Chair of Professional Music at Berklee College of Music. This week, he called up The Current's Jill Riley to speak on injustice, white silence, and the hard truths of "being Minnesotan."

Wright has spent most of his life in the Twin Cities. He came up through Minneapolis Public Schools and the University of Minnesota; signed to Rhymesayers for his debut solo album in 2009; then released the album Pangaea with producer Big Cats in 2014. Even after moving to Boston in 2018, he says, "I never left Minneapolis. I'm back frequently."

All this to say, he's intimately familiar with the beauties and shortfalls of the Twin Cities. In his interview with Jill, he speaks on the location of the city's garbage plant (downtown, right by North Minneapolis) and scrap yards (North Minneapolis contains several). He brings up racial disparities and redlining. He says, "We [Minnesotans] have the worst disparities in the country. These things that people have been crying out forever, and they've been downplayed and pushed back on."

This spring, as George Floyd joins the too-long list of BIPOC people who have been killed by police officers, many formerly silent people are having to face the injustice inflicted upon their neighbors. "It's a very pick-a-side moment," Wright says. "Either you see it and you want to do something about it, or you see it and you don't care [...] This is the moment where you have to choose."

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