As a Black man in the predominantly white country music industry, Darius Rucker has had to deal with his share of racist interactions over the years. The South Carolina native used to deal with it through a mix of both astonishment and forced acceptance — but not anymore.
“The first time I walked into [a country radio station], nobody said they wouldn’t play [my song],” Rucker says in an interview on Apple Music’s Color Me Country With Rissi Palmer. “What was said was, ‘I don’t think my audience will accept a Black country singer’ … I go, ‘Wow. Really? I thought music was notes and words and chords. I didn’t know music was color. I found that out today.’”
As Rucker’s three children have grown older and are now faced with similar instances of racism, however, it’s hit him differently.
“You’ve got your friends, the people you love, and she went to public school and everything, so she had a group of friends,” Rucker recalls of one of his daughter’s experiences. “… I just remember her saying how hurt she was to find out how really some of her friends were just so racist.
“I mean, that was a ‘stay at home a couple of days’ thing … to really deal with that,” he continues. “And there’s nobody in the world that could talk to her more on that than me.”
So, father and daughter had to sit down and have a conversation. “She came out much better on the other side, but at the time, for me, it was just hard to watch,” Rucker admits.
In recent years, Rucker says he no longer turns the other cheek when dealing with racism; in fact, he says that if ever there was a time for him to be outspoken about his experiences, it’s now.
“It’s not just okay anymore,” Rucker says. “I’m not going to just sit back and let things happen. I’m not going to compromise my life and career for someone’s hatred anymore.”
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