ABCnews.com Chat Transcript February 17, 2000 http://www.abcnews.go.com
Although he is a successful and accomplished artist, Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish says his skin color continues to affect the way he is treated by others. The African-American musician shared his perspectives in a frank and insightful interview featured on 20/20 Downtown.
With more than 17 million albums sold, and a pair of Grammys, Hootie & the Blowfish is one of the most beloved bands to emerge in the 1990s. Regardless of his success, Rucker still deals with the reality that he continues to face discrimination in his life. He fears that this is even more evident in the lives of everyday black men and women in our country.
This is a transcript of a chat with Darius Rucker.
Moderator: Welcome Darius Rucker.
Darius Rucker: Hey what's up you guys, it's Darius. I'm here to answer a few questions. Thanks for logging on!
Candy asks: Darius do people have a problem with the fact that your band is multiracial?
Darius Rucker: I think some people really do but some people have a problem with everything. Multicultural or multiracial, and those people really don't matter to me.
EZGuest96328968 asks: Hi D...have you ever experienced racial remarks while performing on stage, if yes, how did you handle the situation?
Darius Rucker: Sure I've been called the N word on stage but the person didn't think I'd be able to hear it but I heard it and you don't speak to their level of ignorance. I have a job to do and the people who have paid money to see us they don't want to see me fighting some guy they want to see us play so I take it with a grain of salt and put on a show. I wanted to kill the guy after the show though.
Ike asks: How was it breaking into your style of music as a Black man?
Darius Rucker: It was hard you know because in our scene there weren't a lot of African Americans in bands especially not lead singers especially where we were playing in the Southeast it was hard we played our frat parties and I couldn't believe I was there. There were times when we had a hard struggle to get to where we are and we had to pay our dues.
Stan asks: What can we do to change this kind of perception toward black people and minorities?
Darius Rucker: Making a racist statement or saying something discriminatory is just to speak up. And say something to them and don't let racism just happen. We have to as a country all step up to it and say what's wrong and tell people I don't feel that way and don't talk that way around me.
LillyFay asks: Darius- I only saw the tail end of the show have you personally experienced acts of race and hatred?
Darius Rucker: Yeah. I grew up in South Carolina my whole life and not that South Carolina is any more racist than New York City but I experienced it a lot. The funny thing is that people think a lot of Americans don't think this is true but I experience racism almost every day.
CUtigress asks: Hi Darius. I'm at your rival college at the moment (Clemson) and am presently taking a course on Race/Ethnicity problems. The program tonight touched on a lot of issues we are discussing. What I would like to ask is what you expect in the future? Racism has gotten better in the past several decades but is still obviously occurring at much higher rates than people sometimes realize. How can we better the situation?
Darius Rucker: Well you know one way is to speak up when you see or hear something that's racist and just check yourself. I think that's one way for our country as a whole to get better is for people to start taking responsibility for what they say and what they are.
Luke asks: Some people, myself included, get the same bad vibe being followed in stores etc. even though I'm not black. I'm not saying that race is never the issue but SOMTIMES wouldn't you agree it's more the over all appearance (attire etc.) as much if not more than the race?
Darius Rucker: I wouldn't say as much but I think sometimes sure. Attire is it sometimes. A bunch of kids go into a mall and a guy's gonna follow them. But a forty year old black man in a suit he's gonna be followed too. I doubt a forty-year-old white guy in a suit is getting followed.
alpine4u asks: I know racism is bad all over the world but while you are all around do you find that it is worst in Northern states rather than Southern states?
Darius Rucker: No, it's more overt in the Southern states and more covert in the North. Down South you know who hates you. Up North it's more closeted. I guess the open racism is more in Southern areas than Northern areas.
Christine asks: How do you deal with the hurt after encountering a racist person?
Darius Rucker: You know you go through the stages. There's the humiliation stage, then the feel sorry for yourself stage, then the pure anger stage but I usually get to anger within the first five minutes!
Mel101 asks: Mr. Rucker let me first say your music is great. Do you think that you feel that racism is a big issue because the people you deal with are of an older generation while I as an 18 year old white male feel that black people should be allowed to do whatever they want?
Darius Rucker: I hope you're right and I hope I'm Chicken Little but you look at the websites of these white supremacist groups and you look at these guys on TV with their five year old kids in full Klan getup and you know there's another generation of Americans being taught to hate for no other reason than the color of one's skin or religion.
rpkelly asks: Do you feel that racism in the year 2000 will become any less of an issue?
Darius Rucker: I hope not because I don't think it's any less of a problem. I hope we always keep it in the forefront until it doesn't happen anymore.
stargirl7 asks: (Do) you feel that racism is a problem for both whites and blacks today?
Darius Rucker: Oh definitely. When it happens I think it's a problem for everybody. You know Blacks, Whites, Asians everybody. It's just amazing for me. I can't fathom the ability to hate that much I enjoy loving so much more.
blackwoman asks: Darius doesn't it seem like African -Americans are in a Catch-22? We see the discrimination but others don't, so when we acknowledge it, they claim we are overdoing it. What have you done to deal with this Catch-22 situation?
Darius Rucker: I agree totally we are in a Catch-22. A lot of people think things are exaggerated but what I do to deal with it is to speak to open my mouth. I tell what I see and what things have happened to me and that's the only way I can handle it.
Delvon asks: Darius, very nice voice by the way. How have your experiences effected your relationship with your band members?
Darius Rucker: I think our relationship has changed so drastically. When we started playing I don't think that any of those guys were racist. They had their friends and never thought about it until they started travelling with me. And seeing me getting stopped and hearing the first class guys asking me if I want first class and hearing people saying "The band's real good even if they have a N-- for a singer". When that happens and if you love somebody you really see theignorance of racism. When somebody is in your life and they have to experience it changes people. And those guys are my brothers.
goodbro asks: If you had/have a son how would you prepare him for such treatment in America?
Darius Rucker: Oh I hope someday to have a son and that's something I think about all the time. You should do what my mom did to me which is to teach them that they are great. You have the ability to be anything you want to be and the one thing is not to let ignorance keep you down. Don't let anybody call you names, but don't let ignorance keep you down.
Jimc asks: Do the rest of the guys in the band get mad when they see the way you're treated?
Darius Rucker: Yes! They are quicker to react then I am.
Gayle asks: How did you and the rest of the guys in the band get together?
Darius Rucker: Well we met in college living in the same dorm 15 years ago.
MSRoz asks: Just as Peter Paul & Mary developed "Where have all the flowers gone" the metaphor about the needless cost of war, I have faith that someone with your talents may be able to develop a metaphoric song which will transcend generations about prejudice regardless of race religion age and on and on and on - any interest?
Darius Rucker: I'm always looking to write that song that can change the world, but I'm still working towards it. I just want to say I grew up and I remember all the things growing up and racism is something that's not born with you, it's something that's taught to you . It's fed to you. And you either buy it or you don't. And I look around in America and I as a Black man in America. I'm in this rock and roll band and we make it and I get to travel the world and I have seen racism all over the world. I went to South Africa and experienced what it must have been like in the early 1800's. And it's like we are the greatest country in the world and the world police and the saddest thing is we can't get people together. And when God looks down we are just people we are God's people and it amazes me that people can sit in their house and say "God I hate that person because he is black" or "I hate that guy because he's white." People should spend one day with someone who's not their color just go and hang out and have a good time and you'll see how much we are alike as people and it would be scary what a great country that would be.