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Lauryn Hill Speaks Out on Racism, Legal System in Open Letter

Lauryn Hill
Dave Kotinsky, Getty Images

Lauryn Hill makes a fierce return today (June 27), but this time she writes a 1,600-word open letter about racism and the justice system, which, she felt, treated her inhumanely during her tax evasion case.

The missive comes at a topical time when the George Zimmerman trial and the Paula Deen scandal are currently the biggest news headlines of the week. Both are polarizing stories that are related to race and racism in America.

Also, let’s not forget that on July 8, L. Boogie will have to report to jail to serve out her 90-day sentence for tax evasion. So, obviously, she’s not thrilled about that — hence, this lengthy letter.

On the topic of racism, she writes, in part:

The concept of reverse racism is flawed, if not absolutely ridiculous. Most, if not all of the negative responses from people of color toward white people, are reactions to the hatred, violence, cruelty and brutality that they were shown by white people for centuries. Much of the foundation of the modern world was built on the forced free labor of black peoples. The African Slave Trade, the institution of slavery, colonialism, its derivative systems, and the multiple holocausts throughout history, where whites used race as the defining reason to justify their oppression, conquest, and brutal treatment of non-white peoples, are how race became such a factor to begin with.”

Yeah this is some heady stuff.

The letter really gets interesting (at least to us) when Hill addresses her tax evasion case and the attorneys and judges who were involved in the proceedings.

She writes:

The prosecutor, who was a woman, made a statement during sentencing about me not doing any charity work for a number of years during my ‘exile.’ A) Charity work is not a requirement, but something done because someone wants to. I was clearly doing charitable works way before other people were even thinking about it. And B) Even the judge had to comment that she, meaning I, was both having and raising children during this period. As if that was not challenging enough to do. She sounded like the echo of the grotesque slave master, who expected women to give birth while in the field, scoop the Baby up, and then continue to work. Disgusting.”

Finally, Hill, very briefly, talks about her music:

Much of my music, if not all of it, is about Love, a therapeutic resolve created in response to the lack of messages encouraging people like me toward free moral agency. Helping to ameliorate this condition has never been addressed through the political arena alone. It is a sacrificial work that doesn’t simply happen between the hours of 9 to 5 or Monday through Friday, but when inspiration leads us to avail ourselves for the Truth that needs to be said. Unlike the system too often contrarily demonstrates, we believe that people can be and should be helped, and that trauma should not be criminalized but acknowledged, healed and dealt with. This takes awareness, sensitivity and a level of freedom in my opinion the system lacks. And if we don’t know or understand how to do it, then we humbly refer to a higher authority.”

You have to read the entire letter to get the gist of what Lauryn Hill is talking about. To check it out, click here.

Next: Lauryn Hill Gives Fearless Concert Performance in New York

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