V127: The Thought Leaders Issue With Maxwell

The musician talks about the American Dream, the 100 Million Masks program, and free education.

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

“Things are completely unbearable. I don’t feel like everyone gets a fair shot at living the American Dream. There is an incredible amount of marginalization that occurs in ways that we don’t fully know or understand. As an African-American born in Brooklyn, [I used to think] New York was an example of anything is possible. Slowly, throughout the years, we’ve started to see that not everything is possible; some things are only possible for certain people. I’m voting and will continue to vote past the presidential elections to give others the chance that I was blessed enough to be given.

“As a young man, I can’t say that I believed in the system. I was so wrapped up in art and music and the beauty of it. But I’m starting to realize, with gerrymandering, the issues that occur when voting is [made] more difficult for certain people. It shouldn’t be difficult to register to vote. If you can join the army or pay taxes, you should be registered, so you can be a voice that can activate change in your life. You should do it not only for yourself, but for those who are coming before you and after you.

“Earlier this year, I was involved with the 100 Million Masks program. We donated masks to five boroughs. I wanted to flee New York but because this is my city, I couldn’t just leave. I had to find a way to help some of the hospitals in Queens, in Brooklyn, and people in the city. I did suffer a bit from survivor’s guilt because I was reading a lot about what was going on around the world. I’ve had lots of mental distress through watching friends lose jobs. I love making music and I’m still very excited about it, but I’ve never felt that it was as insignificant like I have this year. If we don’t do something to move the needle, it could get even worse. COVID-19 has given us a reason to really think about what matters.

“If I could pass one policy in America tomorrow, it would be for free education. It’s through knowledge that I’ve been given the opportunities that I’ve had. Knowing about classical music and understanding literature and Langston Hughes and Pablo Neruda. I was into these things because I was a nerd! But the ability to expose all people to ideas and stories would change the world. Knowledge gives people an opportunity to see beyond.


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