What’s the meaning behind The Rejected Stone? And why now?
In the New Testament, as told in Luke, Jesus is rejected by the people after he reads scripture. They question the authenticity of the scripture and criticize him. He is described as the rejected “cornerstone.” There has been a lot of talk about how I have become something of a different individual. People have described me as going through this major transformation. But what’s really happened is the country has changed. So, in this book, I examine how an individual deals with being a reject and then being accepted. Everybody’s been a reject.
There is a little controversy over your choice of publishers: Cash Money. Some would argue that’s an unorthodox fit, especially considering the issues you’ve had with hip-hop artists such as Lil Wayne.
It is exactly what the title says. I talk extensively in the book about this, and explain that just because we’ve disagreed on some issues in the past doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be disagreeable. And the publishers came back after some discussion and gave me complete control over the content, which is something I wanted. This message about the “rejected stone” is something our young people need to hear.
How does your recent multiplatform Advancing the Dream project align with the themes you address in the book?
With Advancing the Dream, we are learning more about the stories of individuals who rose from rejection and became very successful. Tyler Perry, at one time, was homeless. Stevie Wonder battled blindness. Magic Johnson became affl icted with HIV. You can’t be the agent for change if you don’t internalize that change. Gandhi said, “You must be the change that you seek.”
Do you think the term “racism” is being misused or incorrectly defined? Or do you think it’s been trivialized by some?
For example, NYC Mayor Bloomberg intimated mayor elect Bill de Blasio was somehow “racist” for having his interracial family on the campaign trail. We do have a blatant attempt to trivialize racism. You have a city where 40 percent of the population lives in poverty. You have the “Stop and Frisk” policy disproportionately impacting people of color. People of color are struggling with high unemployment and seeing their voting rights being taken away. When you are more likely to die from violence because of “Stand Your Ground” laws, then racism can’t be trivialized . I refuse to act like race is about style when it is about the institutionalized racism we face every day.