V127: The Thought Leaders Issue With Joey Labeija

The musician talks about police brutality, lack of trust in law enforcement, and health care.

V127’s Thought Leaders Issue is available for pre-order now.

“I’m voting because another four years of Donald Trump running America is detrimental, and not an option. If there’s one thing that has to change, it’s that police have to stop killing people. There needs to be crazy police reform. We need to stop giving them money and we need to give it to the places that they are literally terrorizing.

“I grew up in the Bronx, moved to Brooklyn and then back to where I grew up. My neighborhood is really far out—the last stop on the 2 train. I’ve been arrested for stupid shit, like smoking weed outside of my house when I was 15. So I never fucked with the police. It’s funny, because I went to high school in a really rich neighborhood in the suburbs, in New Rochelle. In that community they think of the police as protectors, but I would then go back home to the Bronx, knowing that we don’t fuck with the police. [It was understood that] they are not to be trusted. Even if a cop is a good person, he still works for a really bad system. This is a discussion I’ve had to explain to family members. It’s hard.

Joey wears top, (over shirt) Balenciaga, shirt (underneath) and jewelry his own

“Another thing that needs to change is our health care. Something I’ve been dealing with a lot lately is, why is our health care system so fucked? And why is it such a pain in the ass to try to take care of your mental health? It was a lot going through the pandemic, and it was starting to wear on me mentally. I had to release music right when it started and it felt super wrong. Personally, I’ve been learning to just take every day, whatever the mood is, and just lean into it. Like, tomorrow is gonna be better—or it could not be. It is what it is. Because the fear of the future is almost horrifying.

“I’ve been in the House of LaBeija since 2012. It’s the first house, so joining was less to be a voguer—dancing is not my thing; competition is not my thing—and more about being part of this legendary thing that started here. My community has been super important to me at this time, and I’ve been reaching out more. We just hang out on FaceTime, talk about shit, and how we’re going to navigate through this. It’s definitely made all of us a lot closer.”


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