Last year, Lamar and I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Speech Thomas (founder and lead vocalist of the two-time Grammy Award winning group, Arrested Development) and his lovely wife, Yolanda. Arrested Development is best known for bringing balance to hip-hop. In a time, when Gangsta rap was all the rage, Arrested Development was able to successfully provide a more positive and socially conscious alternative.
I was happy to find that Speech is exactly the way I imagined him to be; a very kind and positive person that cares deeply for people.
Below is an interview that I did with Speech for Moms Clean Air Force. He explains why Arrested Development decided to produce a song and video that tackles environmental issues, and what he thinks each person can do to make real changes to improve the environment.
[BMWK] What Inspired Arrested Development to produce a song and video (Greener) that tackles environmental issues?
[SPEECH] The whole idea of being health & green conscious had primarily been a “white” thing to a lot of black people I met. We addressed the green revolution from a regular black persons perspective, to try to get information out there.
[BMWK] In the song, you say: “Blacks want to be green”...They want to recycle.” Can you elaborate on what you mean by that statement?
[SPEECH] Being conscientious of the lands resources and its power, are concepts that resonate innately in indigenous people, and of course, people of African descent too. There’s something deep within us, that make us want to care for the Earth.
[BMWK] Do you think there is a perception that African Americans are not environmentally conscious? If so, why?
[SPEECH] Yes, the perception is that we don’t care. I think it’s because of two reasons: 1. We’ve been stripped of our initial connection with the land. Through the sheer embarrassment & exploitive nature of slavery, share cropping, and the injustice that we associate with working the land, we’ve tried to disconnect from that pain. I believe it was just to survive emotionally & have hope again. We gotta keep in mind that slavery was less than 200 years ago; that’s my great grandmother’s parents. 2. Our deep cycle of poverty (that centuries of slavery brought about) made it imperative to search for work in urban areas after the industrial revolution. That need placed us within urban landscapes. These realities have made us learn other skills to survive and thrive. What once was natural to us i.e.: passing down clothes generationally, conserving water, growing our own foods, and saving electricity became foreign. The framework of using special light bulbs, recycling by putting things in bins, considering electric cars, felt weird to us. It’s a new learning curve, and a new application of things we historically understood.
You can read the rest of the article over at The Moms Clean Air Force Page.