Charlamagne on Clinton, Voting Local, and Black Privilege

TV personality Charlamagne Tha God poses with adoptable puppies from The Shelter Pet Project during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Credit: NBCBLK)
TV personality Charlamagne Tha God poses with adoptable puppies from The Shelter Pet Project during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Credit: NBCBLK)

Charlamagne tha God is infamous for testing and tangling with rappers and hip-hop moguls as a co-host of the radio show “The Breakfast Club,” but with the election just a week away, he’d rather talk about why he’s throwing his weight behind the Democratic nominee.

“Personally, I think Hillary is more than qualified to be President of the United States of America,” Charlamagne told NBCBLK. “Plus, I like what she represents as a symbol. She’s a woman. I have two daughters. I feel like that’s empowering for women the same way watching Barack Obama was empowering for black people.”

While Clinton has a clear lead in the polls among both women voters and African-American voters, her campaign has paid particular attention to ramping up efforts to increase black voter turnout.

Secretary Clinton recently gave Charlamagne and his co-hosts an exclusive interview. It was the perfect platform to speak directly to a significant minority and millennial audience about her policy ideas for the Black community — a community that isn’t nearly as excited about this election compared to turnout in the last two cycles.

Charlemagne tha god talks with NBCBLK. (Credit: Mia Hall)

In North Carolina, only 22 percent of black voters have cast ballots compared to 27.3 percent of early voters in 2012. Florida is seeing similar declines with 16 percent turnout compared to 25 percent in the last election.

Charlamagne noted that our current president could also be responsible for that gap in enthusiasm. “I don’t think they feel like it’s any candidates speaking to them or for them. I think that some people are discouraged,” he said. “Watching Barack Obama, they feel like maybe Barack didn’t do what he promised to the Black community if he promised anything. They just don’t feel like he did enough for the community.” While slightly skeptical of the impact the executive office has on creating change in the Black community, Charlemagne still believes in the power of voting on the local level. “Neither one of them can save you anyway. You have to empower yourself. You gotta go out and get this money, but you also have to be involved with politics on a local level because I feel like that’s direct change to me,” he said. “You know when it comes to mayors and governors and sheriffs and school superintendents that’s direct change for whatever community you’re in.”

The “Uncommon Sense” host also acknowledged the Black community’s historic distrust of the government and how some of Trump’s supporters are sharing some of those same sentiments.

“In the situation with Trump, they’re only saying the system isn’t working because he’s not currently leading in the polls. So they’re just saying the system isn’t working because for this one moment in time they feel like things aren’t going they’re way. For black people we’ve felt like it’s been broken since day one,” Charlamagne told NBCBLK. “Regardless of what this system is throwing at us we have no choice but to try to succeed. That’s it; you don’t have to have the option of failure. Like I said empower yourself, put yourself in a position of power in order to win.”

Funny may come naturally for Charlamagne, but he is serious about black empowerment and recently turned his tough talk into a book deal. “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It,” is a self-empowerment guide, scheduled to be released next spring.

“In America, a Black man has to feel like he’s God just to make it a little bit when white people can just feel human. They can just be themselves but for me I feel we have to start instilling that back into our people. That pride. That black power. That privilege to be alive. That’s why I’m naming my book “Black Privilege” he explained. “I feel like we all have this privilege in us that God has given us. The privilege to be alive it’s the privilege to breath so why waste that? We’re special because we’re here. We’re special because God created us, and that goes for any race.”

For Charlamagne, this all ties back to the attitudes about race and class that are coming to a head in this election. “Any race can have privilege because trust me poor white people, poor white trash that you see at these Trump conventions who feel like they have no privilege, that’s why they love to buy into that ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan because they feel like I’m just a waste of good white skin. No one has ever talked to the poor white trash of our society. No one has ever talked to them and Donald Trump is talking directly to them.”

With the days until the election dwindling down, Charlamagne also had a message for undecided voters: Go vote.

“Unless you have a better idea or come up with a better solution than sit at home I think you should get out and vote because our ancestors died for our right to.”

Check out our interview with Charlamagne on Facebook Live here.

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