The Corner

Film & TV

Trigger Warning with Killer Mike

If I’m being honest, I’ve never been able to get into Run the Jewels, the raunchy rap duo featuring Killer Mike. But Mr. Mike is a fascinating guy: intensely pro-gun, and also a Bernie Sanders supporter. So when I pulled up Netflix this morning for my too-brief daily treadmill walk and saw he had a new show, I decided to take a break from Friends from College.

I didn’t regret it. In the first episode he decides to “live black” for three days, patronizing only black-owned businesses and limiting himself to products made by black-owned companies up the supply chain. The idea is that, under segregation, blacks were forced to do business only with each other, which built up entire networks of black-owned companies; the end of segregation was obviously a positive development but had the negative consequence of dealing a blow to black entrepreneurship. Other minority groups have been more successful at creating businesses, patronizing them heavily, and thereby “keeping their dollars in the community.”

He profiles numerous businesspeople in his state of Georgia working to make “living black” a real possibility, but he also suffers “white-economy withdrawal,” struggling to find even the basics of food, transportation, and shelter. There are less wholesome aspects too: He can’t smoke weed because he can’t find any grown by black people; he visits a black-owned strip club but has to regretfully turn away an Asian dancer. (“No racism, but . . .”)

The free-market crowd would insist that trade between whites and blacks, like trade among countries, is almost by definition a good thing for everyone involved. Indeed, in a somewhat ironic twist, Killer Mike ends the show urging white “allies” to shop at black businesses as well. But the episode is thought-provoking and entertaining, and I plan to watch the rest of the show.

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