Toki Wright on Minneapolis, Racism and Music

Sound & Vision
Hosted by Emily Fox
Wright tells the stories behind some of his songs that address racism and police violence and discusses how those issues play out in Minneapolis.

Toki Wright is a musician, MC, producer, writer, radio DJ and community organizer from Minneapolis. He recently moved to Boston and is now chair of Berklee’s Professional Music Department. He’s been making music that addresses systemic racism, oppression and police violence for years. “I don’t sit around all day thinking about race,” Wright says. “I have a lot of things I really love to do. The problem is that race impacts all of them.”

Wright tells the stories behind some of his songs that address racism and police violence and discusses how those issues play out in Minneapolis.

Wright also talks about the white superiority complex within the Twin Cities’ music scene. 

“Imagine what it's like standing on stage and looking out into the crowd and not seeing your people there. Your people want to be there, but they feel uncomfortable coming into that room because they're not being represented,” Wright says. “How this all kind of relates to George Floyd and the murdering cop that killed him is they both worked at a couple of music venues in town doing security. And it came out recently that they knew each other for years and that they had altercations and a lot of those altercations were based on how the officers would treat Black patrons on nights when there were Black crowds—there’s a heightened sense of security. There is a more intense treatment of people.”

Songs discussed:

“Nezhno feat. Toki Wright” by Sleep Sinatra
“Gatekeepers” by Toki Wright & Big Cats
“Time Bomb” by Toki Wright & Big Cats 

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