We recently had the pleasure of spending some time talking to Chicago MC, Jessica Disu aka FM Supreme, about her seat right at the intersection of hip-hop music and social activism. She also provided some gems about the significance of travel in self-improvement and the controversy surrounding her appearance on FOX News calling for the abolition of police.
Read the entire interview below.
BYP: Have you always been someone who gets in front of issues you’re passionate about or did a specific moment occur to ignite that passion in you?
FM Supreme: I have always been very passionate and compassionate about social justice issues since I was a teenager. Kuumba Lynx, an arts and education, Hip Hop and social justice organization based in Chicago were my first mentors. They helped cultivate my political consciousness. My first protest was in 2004 with Kuumba Lynx, Afrika Bambattaa (co founder of Hip Hop) and Hip Hop heads (b-boys/b-girls, graffiti artists, mc’s, djs) and masters of knowledge, it was against Kool cigarettes. Back then, Kool was using elements and images of Hip Hop for marketing on their packaging. We believed then and now that their goal was to target and market their product to Black and Brown youth and so we resisted and protested that effort. That event was one of many that ignited my “fire” as an activist.
BYP: There’s been a noticeable growth in community participation in a activist movements in recent years. What do you think is necessary to make the jump from organization to implementing these ideas that are being fought for?
FM Supreme: I think that it is important to “do the work” whatever that work is that needs to be done. Everyone has different skill sets. I believe that it is important to draw on our individual strengths and collectively build on our weaknesses as a community.
BYP: You recently became a target of criticism for your statements on FOX News calling for an abolition of police as the currently are. What was it like being on the receiving end of that?
: The criticism from my interview on Fox News
was a bit jarring. It was probably one of the most humbling experiences that I have had on such a public and very large platform. A majority of my negative criticism came from White people who do not and care not to know nor understand my perspective as a young Black woman from Chicago. The backlash from the interview really taught me for myself how deeply racist a lot of people in this country still are. I never ever want to hear rhetoric about a “post-racial society” in the U.S when in 2016, I am being called every “stupid n*gger” in the book by white supremacists. We have so very far to go to equity and equality in this country. Faith without works is dead. So I will continue to do my part and advocate for justice and peace in our communities.
BYP: If you could go back to that moment, and those leading up to it, is there anything you would’ve done differently?
FM Supreme: I did not prepare to say “we need to abolish the police, period.” My prepared talking points were along the lines of “excessive force by police officers should be against the law.” “Law enforcement should not have the right and license to kill unarmed civilians.” However, after hearing so much bickering and back and forth nonsense about investing more federal funds into policing of which I vocally disagreed. During the taping, I realized that everyone was talking over each other, no one was listening to each other and also, I realized that FOX had placed me in an interview segment with far right conservatives who were bound to disagree with anything that I stated.
FM Supreme: So do I regret saying what I said? NO. I don’t regret it. I regret that I wasn’t allocated more time to elaborate and expound upon my statement of abolishing the police, as we know it. I am not for anarchy and do believe in having role for peace officers in our society. And as a peace activist, my goal is to be a thought leader about abolishing all institutions of violence and the police force in the U.S as we know it, is a very violent institution. I wish that the public wanted to discuss and add their ideas to “transformative solutions” but instead because we live in a microwave popcorn generation, all the public heard was “abolish the police” and that statement alone went viral. I also stated that we need to demilitarize the police and disarm the police. Like the police force in England. But many viewers of FOX News are rigid, and consciously or unconsciously arrogantly resist transformative change. It’s like they want everything in society to remain the same. My purpose is to serve our youth and speak the truth through words, music, advocacy and action.
FM Supreme: By God’s grace, I have a great support system. After the interview, my friends: Antwaun Sargent, Tsion Gurmu and John Belitsky, who watched from the green room at FOX, lifted me up and we talked about how we wish I had more time to explain my statement. Antwaun and Tsion are highly educated: Sargent graduated from Georgetown and Gurmu graduated from University of Chicago and NYU Law School. So after debriefing with them, I was confident. Although I had spoken something that I had not prepared to say, it came out of a real place and made sense to us. We just knew that I would later have to expand upon my statement and right then and there we composed my response on my Facebook wall. When I made it back home to Chicago (FOX flew me to NYC for two nights), I spoke with a few of my comrades in Black Youth Project 100 and was blessed to speak with Alicia Garza (co-founder of Black Lives Matter) and she listened to me as I vented and offered me powerful words of encouragement. Alicia told me that BLM has my back and that to keep speaking my truth.
BYP: You speak regularly about your time traveling abroad. What benefits do you think it has on people’s lives, even if they’re only traveling for a short time?
FM Supreme: Traveling abroad is a blessing and very necessary, I believe. Traveling helps us with perspectives and shows us different models for living and civic engagement. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. The grass is greener where we water it. Traveling helps show me that poverty in the States is luxury in some underdeveloped nations across the world. Traveling opens our mind and for me, my creativity flows and imagination grows when I am in motion.
Photo: Jessica Disu