Killer Mike reflects on Trump, Baltimore, ‘drug war reparations’ and Bernie Sanders

Marquise Francis
National Reporter & Producer


After President Trump picked a fight last month with Baltimore and its Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, describing the city as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess,” Rapper and Atlanta entrepreneur Killer Mike tried to keep his focus on the larger picture.

“One person at the helm of this country doesn’t change the fact that … the will of the American people are truly what will rule this nation,” Killer Mike, whose real name is Michael Render, told Yahoo News in an interview at his Atlanta barbershop, the SWAG Shop.

“It’s not about how that comment hits me. It’s about how policy has hit the African-American community the last 55 years or so,” Render said, adding, “We’ve never gotten the chance to have the equal life that we deserve. We’ve never been given full rights. We’ve never been given full opportunity.”

Render said American history — from Jim Crow to the war on drugs — helps explain why economic disparities between African-Americans and whites exist in many cities like Baltimore.

“For those cities where these things are happening, including sections of Atlanta, my question becomes, How do we change the system to provide opportunity?” Render said.


Render also cited the ongoing legalization of the marijuana in several states and the emerging racial divide in the cannabis industry as another example of how African-Americans continue to be excluded from economic opportunity.

“If we know a wave of legalization and decriminalization is coming for marijuana and we [African-Americans] make up 15 percent of this country, we should be a hard 15 percent of the multibillion-dollar marijuana industry,” he said. “We have paid with sweat, with labor in jails, federal, state and local municipalities. There’s no reason we should not be guaranteed 15 percent.”

“For the drug war reparations, give us our 15 percent guaranteed of that. For reparations for what this country owes us for getting a 200-year economic head-start and allowing them to be a world power in under 500 years, that’s a whole other conversation.”

In the 2016 Democratic primary, Render announced his support for Sen. Bernie Sanders after the presidential hopeful said he intended to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Four years later, Render is once again on team Bernie, but he admits, he’s willing to vote other candidates in the general election so as to endure Trump’s defeat. “I’m going to support the most progressive campaign that’s in that race,” Render said, adding, “The most progressive policy that’s good for my community.”

“I’m hoping that the Democrats do like the Avengers movie,” Render said. “I hope that everyone uses their super power to cooperate in the end and defeat the greater opponent, because if they don’t, it’s terrible for us.”


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