17 February 2016
With the release of Leroy Moore's new book Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics, Robin Surgeoner spoke to him about the history, issues and smouldering angst that the verbiage within delivers like punches to one's conscience.
Leroy Moore aka Black Kripple is an American poet, activist and founder of the Krip Hop movement, which produces hip hop mixtapes by disabled artists from around the world.
Having had the privilege of both sharing a stage with and promoting Moore and his Krip Hop Nation I can assure you that his writings bring real issues to life, and takes one’s imagination to all sorts of emotional places: from love to indignation; pain to passion; anger to hope; slavery to freedom.
Having read his new book, I decided to catch up with the man himself. With Moore being in California and me stuck in a miserably grey Sutton Coldfield, we agreed that I would pose a series of questions over email as co-ordinating awake and alert times didn’t seem too probable.
Here is how it went...
Robin Surgeoner: What are the issues your poetry and lyrics engages with?
Leroy Moore: In this book you will find true stories of discrimination like cases of police brutality through to love songs for the Black Disabled community, my family, my lady and poem songs for Black Disabled People in history; like Curtis Mayfield, Ray Charles, Rev. Cecil Ivory, Johnnie Mae Dunson, Barbara Jordan, Harriet Tubman and many more. This book also talks back to the Black community, academic scholars and the media on why they do what they do and at the same time tries to uplift the work of Black Disabled writers, musicians and others.
RS: If you could concentrate the essence of this book, what would you put on the label?
LM: This is a glimpse into the history of some Black disabled people here in the USA. Not only the easy stories to digest but the discrimination, the abuse and the legalization of oppression of Black disabled people that still happens today, sadly. There are key Black disabled people in the book. Also I forgot to do this in this book but I wanted to mention how I was changed in the 90s when I went to London, England and I saw and read about the Black Disabled Movement there with people like Debs Wilkinson and many more.
RS: What do you think needs to be done to shake up contemporary society, and what sort of impact do people like Donald Trump have on the lives and rights of Black and Disabled People?
LM: One thing is we have to stop giving our power away to the government. We need to take back that power and do what needs to be done in our communities. People want a different world and that requires creating new ways to implement what we need outside of today's avenues. And yes, that takes time. Politicians have power because we give it to them. Yes, the next US president can change a lot of things and also we know that presidents have to come back to the people, i.e. Congress. As we gear up to the elections, we also need to continue to be involved with community solutions, like supporting artistic events, volunteering at farmer’s markets...Yes we can have our nine-to-five jobs but in our spare time donate our talents to community projects…
Donald Trump is one wealthy White man. When I look at the US Presidential Election and compare it to who I look everyday – my neighbors, my family, friends, fellow poets, activists etc. – then I see a whole picture that has so much more power than one person in political office.
RS: Do you think there is any kind of action that will force change in the West, and from your knowledge do you feel that even with all that is wrong in Western societies are they still more liberal towards Disabled People and their lives than other societies?
LM: I think the West can learn from other countries when it comes to Disabled People, like Cuba or some parts of Europe where health care is free. In the West it has become, “if it doesn’t happen to me then everything is ok!”. Many people in power think that slavery wasn’t bad! Police get away with murder and return to work like nothing happened! It is off the wall, how did we become a country of, 'I got mine and fuck the rest!' I really feel sorry for my nieces and nephews!
RS: Are you doing performances/readings to promote the book and do you have any plans come the UK in the near future?
LM: Yes, many at colleges and universities and bookstores here in the US. I really hope to return to the UK as soon as possible. No dates so far. I want to do a poetry tour around the UK with other Black and Disabled poets. If you know anybody who may be interested, please let me know.
I recommend Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics to anyone with a belief in liberation or an interest in writing. It is powerful in so many ways it will not fail to move you.