Controversial hip-hop radio DJ Charlamagne Tha God explains what 'black privilege' means to him
"Simply put, I think that it’s a privilege to be black," he says.
— -- Lenard McKelvey, known professionally as Charlamagne Tha God, co-hosts what he calls “the world’s most dangerous morning show.”
On “The Breakfast Club,” which is syndicated in more than 70 markets nationwide, Charlamagne has interviewed everyone from 50 Cent to Hillary Clinton.
And with his brash “say anything to anyone” style of interview, the hip-hop radio DJ has made a name for himself, taking on artists like Kanye West, who he famously called “Kanye Kardashian.”
Charlamagne told “Nightline” that he doesn’t feel nervous about his candid interviews.
“I don’t [feel nervous] because I know it’s not coming from a malicious place,” Charlamagne said. “I’m not trying to be mean.”
Charlamagne, 36, hosts a live show on MTV called “Uncommon Sense Live,” where he wades into politics, and a podcast with co-host Andrew Schulz called “The Brilliant Idiots.”
He also just released his book, “Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It.”
“Simply put, I think that it’s a privilege to be black,” the African-American radio and television personality told “Nightline.”
“As black people, we have access to a divine system that enables us to get through a lot of the obstacles that are thrown at us in America and allows us to prosper in spite of everything that we’ve been through.”
He said it could be considered debatable whether white people have access to the same privilege, but he believes they do and doesn’t deny that white privilege exists.
“I’m not trying to negate white privilege at all, nor am I trying to let America and white people off the hook for everything that they’ve done to oppress and marginalize various communities, especially the black community in America,” Charlamagne said. “All I’m simply saying is we’re special too.”
Charlamagne grew up in a small town in South Carolina. He says he was in jail five or six times and dealt crack. He eventually turned his life around and started a career in radio but was fired four times.
These days, Charlamagne has millions of listeners tuning in to hear his signature segment, “Donkey of the Day,” which he says he uses to “give people the credit they deserve for being stupid.”
President Trump has been his “Donkey of the Day” multiple times.
“He leads the pack as far as donkeys, by far,” Charlamagne said. “He’s the president that I knew, from day one, wasn’t interested in building bridges. He wants to build walls.”
Charlamagne himself has tried to build bridges, creating a dialogue with Tomi Lahren, a conservative television host and political commentator. Many of his friends have been furious that he would spend time with someone like Lahren, he said.
“Friends is a strong word. She’s a media associate,” Charlamagne said of his relationship with Lahren.
Though he has been criticized from all sides, Charlamagne remains devoted to his love of radio.
“As long as I’m doing my passion with a purpose, I’m going to all be happy,” Charlamagne said. “I actually love the game of radio. I love this game. This is what I do.”