Ice Cube: “You can change the law faster than you can change people’s hearts”

Last Thursday, Ice Cube was due to appear on one of America’s most-watched breakfast shows. He’d been expected to crack a few jokes to promote glossy music biz comedy The High Note but in the early hours he pulled out of the interview. “I apologise to everyone expecting to see me on Good Morning America today,” he wrote on Twitter at 5:37AM. “But after the events in Minnesota with George Floyd I’m in no mood to tell America, good morning.”

You will probably know by now, but it bears repeating, that George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, had been killed three days earlier in broad daylight in downtown Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin, a White cop who kept his knee pressed on Floyd’s neck for a horrifying eight minutes and 46 seconds. Two other cops, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng, held Floyd down while a fourth, Tou Thao, stood guard. Chauvin was arrested and initially charged, leniently, with third-degree murder. Until yesterday, the other three had not even been charged. In the days since Floyd died hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken to the streets in cities across the country to protest this latest brutal act of state violence and to proclaim the simple truth, which must be repeated until it is heard, that Black lives matter. These protests against police brutality have in turn been met by yet more police brutality: tear gas, rubber bullets and mass arrests. “They’d rather arrest hundreds of American citizens than three of their own,” Cube tweeted on Sunday. “Very telling.”

Two weeks ago, when NME spoke to Cube via Zoom from his home in Los Angeles, George Floyd was still alive. Such is the frequency of racist murders in America that at the time we were discussing the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25 year-old African-American man from Georgia who was shot while jogging. Three decades have passed since Cube described young Black men as an “endangered species” on his first solo record ‘AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted’. Precious little is different now. “Progress is slow,” says Cube. “Things have changed, but not fast enough. You can change the law faster than you can change people’s hearts.”

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