Jay Smooth on How to Talk About Race | WYPR

Jay Smooth on How to Talk About Race

Mar 3, 2014

Jay Smooth on the air.
Credit hiphopmusic.com

  How should we talk about race? How often should we examine our own thoughts and feelings about race? Jay Smooth has some best practices for these difficult conversations.

The pop-culture commentator and host of New York City's longest-running hip-hop radio show WBAI's "The Underground Railroad" says first, one has to depersonalize conversations about race.

"There's a tendency to assume that any conversation about race is a referendum on whether I am a bad person."

And secondly, Smooth says people need to perform self-assessments on their attitudes about race--even if they strongly believe that they are not racist.

"We usually think of race issues [as] if I'm not racist than that's a permanent state that I don't need to mind and do constant upkeep on," Smooth says. "All of us as good people need to get more comfortable with telling each other that we've got something stuck in our teeth as it were, when it comes to these race issues."

Smooth also has a video blog called "The Ill Doctrine" which covers hip-hop and politics.

On March 6 Smooth will be speaking at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County's 2014 Daphne Harrison Lecture "On Hip Hop, Race, and Politics: The Way We Talk About Things." You can read more about that here. Smooth's lecture is one of the events in UMBC's Critical Social Justice 2014 campaign entitled "Engaging in Difficult Dialogues." The campaign runs from March 3 through March 7.


The first day of the campaign will be delayed, as UMBC is closed today due to weather. Monitor Critical Social Justice's Twitter feed for updates on the rest of the week's events.