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WJKS Kiss 101.7 in Delaware has some explaining to do. The station allegedly decided to remove actor Tyrese from their building after he spoke on the air about the liquor stores in urban neighborhoods. Tyrese had appeared on the station to promote his new album, and then spoke about how liquor stores should not be near schools.

“Get them cats out of here,” he said to the DJ. “Selling alcohol right across from your kids school, homie — put the pressure on them homie… you know how to put pressure on dudes selling in your hood.”

That’s the point when the station manager allegedly came to tell Tyrese to leave the building.

His argument?

Tyrese was “disrespecting” the Delaware community.

Tyrese responded to the incident on Twitter by saying: “I just got kicked out of a radio station by a [program director] who had a problem w/ me speaking on liquor stores that are by elementary schools in Delaware.”

He also said, “If you don’t STAND for something…You will damn near fall for anything.”

When I heard about his incident, I found it to be quite curious. So, you’re saying that a Black man came into your radio station speaking on an issue that was progressive, productive and supportive of the Black community, and you put him out of the station for that? I wouldn’t be surprised if WJKS ended the Tyrese interview by playing a long list of songs about b*tches, hoes, dealing drugs and shooting Black men in the head. As the church lady on Saturday Night Live might say, “How Conveeeeeenient.”

All jokes aside, the entire Delaware community should take this radio station off of its dial. We should not tolerate living in a society where Black men are rewarded for celebrating ignorance and punished for making intelligent and empowered statements. In fact, some would say that an intelligent Black man is the greatest enemy to corporate America, which makes money by keeping us high, drunk and looking for the next party. Had Tyrese shown up to the radio station half-drunk, with a mouth full of gold teeth, yelling “Where the liquor at ni**a?” he likely would have been a hit on the station and invited back for an encore.

A visit to the WJKS website shows that while the station managers find it appalling that Tyrese wants to protect children from the dangers of alcohol, they proudly promote artists like Lil Wayne (who has rapped about shooting little babies, women and grandmothers), R. Kelly (who is known for his “intense appreciation” of underage girls), and Chris Brown (who was convicted of beating a woman two years ago). Given that the station has a ton of solicitations for potential advertisers on their page, I’m speculating that their need for money is what leads to their willingness to sell the children of Delaware up the river. Money cannot be the sole justification for almost any activity that takes place in our community – during slavery, others sold us, and now, we simply love to sell ourselves.

The problem that was faced by Tyrese is common throughout the United States. I’ve had folks reach out to me from Chicago and Dallas (among other cities), noting that while many suburban communities have no trouble establishing ordinances to keep liquor stores out of their communities, it can often be difficult to get the same opportunities for Black neighborhoods (after all, the corporations need some place to sell their liquor and guns, so why not sell them to us?). One only needs to see the impact of drugs, alcohol and violence up close to realize just how devastating liquor stores and gun shops have been to the African American community. What’s most interesting is that many of these communities are run by Black elected officials who’ve been paid to remain silent about the presence of these atrocious corporate predators.

Tyrese, I’m very proud of you. I also hope that others who hear about this incident will go out of their way to support you in your decision to take a stand on an issue of relevance to our community. Unfortunately, too many famous Black men are enslaved by the corporate machine and made to believe that ignorance is the key to success. I argue that the opposite is true for Black men — we are brilliant, powerful and as capable as we choose to be. I’ll be going to see the next Tyrese movie, even if it’s a bad one – I want to see him succeed.

Now let’s go shut down these damn liquor stores, and I’d love to see an end to WJKS.

A new day has arrived in Black America, and this kind of behavior is no longer tolerated.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.


Tyrese booted from radio station for promoting liquor stores in Black neighborhood

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