In a recent interview (July 10) on TODAY , Darius Rucker opened up about his own experiences with racism and his decision to speak out about racism in America.
.@HarrySmith catches up with @dariusrucker, who’s gearing up for a socially distanced concert in Nashville this weekend and speaking candidly about racism and country music. (Created by TODAY with our sponsor @Citibank.) pic.twitter.com/Wk1wlHtcEY
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 10, 2020
Rucker said it was his children who made him want to publicly address racial injustice, police brutality and racial profiling in a lengthy letter posted on his social media accounts in June.
"Watching them go through this...they're just at that age now where they have to look at it. I've lived with racism my whole life. It made me realize I can't keep living my life like everything's OK, because everything is not OK," Rucker said, adding that he's already had conversations with his children regarding what to do if they're ever stopped by the police. "My son's the youngest and he's about to start driving...all the time we have to talk about that. 'You get stopped, keep your hands on the wheel and don't do anything until he tells you to do it.' We've seen it so many times -- something so innocent as a traffic stop or something and then all of a sudden somebody gets shot. I don't want that for my boy. I don't want that for my daughters. I don't want that for anybody."
"One sentence could end your career in country music. It's proven. Look at the Dixie Chicks. They were the biggest thing in the business. They say one sentence, every station stops playing their music. It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life. It wasn't about their politics, it was about their music."
Rucker also shared some of his own experiences of racism within the music industry, including being told by people at radio stations that they wouldn't play his music because of his race.
"You've got guys telling me 'we're never going to play you because you're a Black guy' ...I can't just go 'it's OK' and go on about my life," Rucker said.
The singer-songwriter also shared his own experiences with getting stopped by police.
"When they recognize me it's cool," Rucker says. "I know I wasn't speeding...I got stopped because I was a Black guy in an expensive car...It's not going to change until enough people say it's wrong."
As for speaking out about injustice and voicing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Rucker says he knows not everyone will support him.
"I'm sure I've already lost fans," Rucker said.
In June, Rucker spoke out about the death of George Floyd, who was killed in police custody after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Chauvin has since been fired from the police department and arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Protests are being held around the country to call for an end to police brutality and racial injustice.
Rucker took to Facebook and Instagram on Monday, June 1 to share his condolences with the family and friends of George Floyd. The "Wagon Wheel" and "Alright" singer-songwriter also shared his experiences with racism.
"This whole thing just really breaks me down to my core. My heart goes out to George Floyd, his family and friends, and to all of 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," Rucker wrote. "2020 has already been heartbreaking. Now, here we are having to again face the truth of racism and the pain and frustration of the African American community. As an American, a father, a son, a brother, a singer, a man...I have faced racism my whole life, from kindergarten to the life I live today. Racism is not a born thing; it is a taught thing. It is not a strong belief; it is a weak belief. It is not a financial issue; it is a hatred issue."
Rucker wrote that he refuses to "perpetuate the myth that things are okay" and voiced his support for peaceful protesters.
"The peaceful protesters out there are an extension of the legacy of the great Dr. King and Gandhi, and they are protesting to be heard. Take a moment and listen," Rucker continued. "I really hope that we get better as a nation. My request to you guys is to search your heart on behalf of all of us and root out any fear, hate or division you have inside of you. We need to come together."
Other country artists who've spoken out include Shania Twain, Maren Morris, Jimmie Allen, Kane Brown, Dan + Shay and Thomas Rhett, who spoke about his daughters and witnessing his tour family deal with racism on the road.
"When I witnessed the horrific murder of George and think about the mistreatment of other black men and women in America, I am heartbroken and angry," Rhett wrote. "I get scared when I think about my daughters and what kind of world they will be growing up in and how my JOB as a father is to show them how to lead with love in the face of hate. To know their worth and value as not only women but human beings."
In a message on social media, Tim McGraw called for "love, respect and understanding of each other" and stressed the importance of bringing injustices to light.
"Our collective heart should break with every injustice brought to light. Our collective voices should be heard for each and every injustice brought to light, for there are many in the darkness. We must find a way to shine light on what is happening."