Jay-Z on Race in America: ‘We’re More Alike than We’re Separate’


“I have a very interesting take on the cultural impact of hip hop, and it’s a strong one, so I just want to prepare people at home,” Jay-Z says in the latest episode of Oprah Winfrey’s Emmy-nominated series Master Class. “I think that hip hop has done more for cultural relations than most cultural icons.”

“And I say, save Martin Luther King, because his ‘Dream’ speech we realized, and President Obama got elected,” Jay-Z continued. “But the impact of the music, this music didn’t only influence kids from urban areas; it influenced people around the world. People listen to this music all around the world and took to this music.”

Winfrey’s Master Class series “offers an unprecedented first-person insight into the brilliant minds of the famous people we love, respect, and admire,” according to the show’s website.

Jay-Z appeared on the show to discuss the civil rights movement and the state of America’s race relations today.

“Racism is taught in the home,” Jay-Z said. “I truly believe that racism is taught when you’re young. So it’s very difficult to teach racism when your kid looks up to Snoop Doggy Dogg.”

Jay also asserted that people in America are more alike than they realize. He said people can look to nightclub behavior as an indicator of where race relations are in America today.

“If you look at clubs and how integrated they have become… before, people partied in separate clubs, there were hip hop clubs and techno clubs, and now people party together,” he concluded. “Once you have people partying, dancing, singing along to the same music, conversation naturally happens after that, and within conversations we all realize we’re more alike than we’re separate.”