As of February 27, there are over 7.8 billion people on Earth. That’s 7.8 billion different perspectives. Countless different opinions and outlooks on life.
American radio host and member of the Radio Hall of Fame Charlamagne tha God seems to flawlessly weave between the stigmas and struggles of being a Black man while understanding the importance of maintaining a balanced outlook on life.
There are undoubtedly billions of individuals who have trouble expressing their life experiences. Charlamagne, however, can articulate his life as fluently as anyone, including the way others may learn from it.
Aubrey Griess, director of speakers for the Slippery Rock University Program Board, shared what it means to bring this sort of diverse perspective to campus.
“We want students to look at things from a different perspective if they haven’t,” Griess said. “He’s gone through a lot of things in his life that he will talk about. It’s going to bring a new perspective to students.”
Much of what has made Charlamagne such an engrossing figure is the wide range of experiences and adversities he has endured ranging from internal to public issues.
“He has a lot of input on mental health, specifically, and on being in the criminal justice system and what it’s like being an African American,” Griess said.
Among the difficulties he endured are the encounters with drugs he had as a teenager.
Charlamagne was arrested for possession when he was still navigating his younger years. That trouble gave him a look into the United States correctional system.
“I would like to see these correctional facilities actually be facilities of correction,” Charlamagne said.
Having a first-hand experience of the correctional system has enlightened Charlamagne of how out of place the term “correctional” is in the title.
“I think there’s a lot of people in prison who shouldn’t be in prison,” Charlamagne said. “They should be in mental health facilities. A lot of these kids need emotional guidance. They need to be taught how to deal with their emotions. A lot of these people come from poor and disenfranchised areas, they never had a chance, they make one mistake. Now you’re sending them away for 20 years. All you’re doing is making them more of an animal.”
Charlamagne has a few ideas for how the system could be made more beneficial for both those stuck in the system and Americans in general.
Among those ideas were creating more ways for prisoners to gain an education, develop the skills of the trade and strengthen their mental health. According to Charlamagne, this would transform many damaged individuals into well-informed, productive members of society after finishing their sentences as opposed to returning to society bitter for the punishment they were handed.
Charlamagne also strongly believes in educating oneself. He shared the importance of reading books, particularly literature, outside of one’s usual scope of interest and focus.
“My mother would always say, ‘read things that don’t pertain to you,’” Charlamagne said. “Once I understood what the word meant, I would always go out of my way to read things that don’t have to do with me.”
Charlamagne shared how there are unimaginable amounts of information readily available to anyone willing to access it. This is a privilege, he said.
Historically, and in modern times, the banning of books and media has created terrible situations for everyone.
Charlamagne shared that all books, especially those banned, contain information that can make any individual powerful if they are willing to accept it and interpret it correctly.
“Reading is revolutionary,” Charlamagne said. “Books are revolutionary.”
In being consistently active with the media, Charlamagne is both well-informed and understanding of the tendencies of younger generations.
He believes that the energy and desire are within young people to create meaningful change for the better in modern society. However, they could benefit from reading and educating themselves more to get themselves to a place where solutions can be discussed and reached.
“This generation does a really great job of bringing attention to things, but are we really discussing solutions?” Charlamagne said. “We never get to the solutions and that’s why you see people making the same mistakes over and over.”
He fears that with a lack of young people educating themselves about how to create good change, the outrage that they spark surrounding modern issues may simply be transferred into more societal anger as opposed to good, meaningful change.
“At some point, you got to sit down with a level head and have a conversation about how to try to get to a solution.” Charlamagne said.
He also explained how he fears that one downside of social media, between the anonymity, misinformation and lack of consequences, is the advancement of the mindset that creates anger and nationwide outrage as opposed to creating solutions.
“[Social media] makes it too easy to get mad,” Charlamagne said. “We get upset nowadays without the full context of a situation.”
It is no secret that America is rapidly moving toward an increasingly technological and online world. This compounds the issue of aggravated online discourse replacing real-life movements for positive change.
“I wonder if this generation is only on social media making noise. What are you actually trying to do to impact change?” Charlamagne said.
He said it is important to have positive conversations about modern topics because the unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of issues that need to be solved.
Charlamagne compared America to the Marvel cinematic universe. Not only are there massive issues that impact many people daily, like the multiverse-threatening villains that Marvel superheroes fight, but there are plenty of smaller issues that still need to be dealt with. This is similar to the muggings and small thieveries that the friendly neighborhood Spider-man would handle in the fictional version of New York City.
“I don’t think that we do a good enough job of knowing how to discuss what the problems are to even know how to come up with any solutions,” Charlamagne said. “We haven’t even dealt with the old stuff like racism, sexism… we haven’t even dealt with the basics.”
Charlamagne said he likes to surround these issues, particularly racism, with positive discourse. He wants everyone to be able to see the beauty of being Black, for example.
“It’s an honor to have this melanin, and I wanted to tell people that,” Charlamagne said.
His ability to hold a positive outlook on many topics does not mean he intends to appear infallible to issues that plague us all.
“I was seeking out healing on my own. When I started having conversations about mental health, it was more so a cry for help because of issues that I was dealing with,” Charlamagne said. “I’ve been dealing with anxiety and panic attacks since I was a child.”
Charlamagne concluded that many of his problems stemmed from issues he had with his father.
“Men don’t talk about it enough,” he said. “We don’t talk about how important our relationships with our fathers are, or the lack of a relationship.”
Charlamagne identified the increase in mental health awareness and resources as a positive of the current young generation, as opposed to what he was offered during his youth.
“The crazy part about the stigma is growing up, I didn’t even know that these resources were available,” Charlamagne said.
Thankfully, Charlamagne was able to learn from the mistakes of others, including his father. He is working on his mental health and strives to maintain the better mental health he has today.
His journey can be a lesson for everyone. He said personal accountability and bettering yourself can not only increase the quality of life as an individual but as individuals become better people, society would be improved as well.
“That’s what’s so scary about this generation that we live in now. I’m watching people do things every single day as if there are no consequences,” Charlamagne said.
He went on to share a story of a man committing a crime and admitting to it on Instagram live. His solution to this wave of irresponsibility is once again individual betterment.
Charlamagne said one way to tap into your full potential as a human and as a member of society is to find what you are good at and find a way to stay motivated to do it.
“What is the gift God gave you?” Charlamagne said. “Anybody out there listening to me, find that thing that you love to do and makes you feel like you’re in alignment.”
This “thing” for Charlamagne was getting involved with radio.
Charlamagne tha God found his passion and his purpose all in one, and it exponentially increased to quality of his life. He bettered his mental health and became a well-functioning and admired member of society.
He found the motivation to stick with his passion, saying he does it to put dinner on the table for his four daughters back home.
Because, he said, at the end of the day, doing good for the people close to you is what matters.