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Ice Cube: It's not a religion; it is a way of life. The way your body works is Islam. The way the Earth works with the sky and rain, all that is Islam. It's kinda hard to just spit out in a couple of words. Islam is not Sunday; it's not like, "Okay, I'm going to go to church on Sunday." It's every day; all things within that day are Islamic.
NT: What would you tell a white kid inquiring about the Nation?
Ice Cube: The Nation of Islam is an organization built, focused on and running on the will of the Almighty God.
NT: What was your life like before you joined the Nation?
Ice Cube: I was mad, and I was angry. I was the pissed-off young person that you hear on my records.
NT: So you feel that the Nation has given you peace of mind?
Ice Cube: Yeah! Because once you understand something, you can physically deal with it better than confrontation. Confrontation isn't always the best way to deal with your problems or your enemies.
NT: So you're gaining wisdom in your old age?
Ice Cube: I have got wise on how everything works. Like, why are black people in the condition we are in? Why is it so hard for us to get out? Why are we here in America? All these type of things I have found the answer to, and I am able to sit back and understand. Most black people say we are in a sad situation. But most people never, ever think about, well, maybe we are in this situation for a reason. We never ask ourselves what the reason is.
NT: So what is the reason?
Ice Cube: The reason, in my opinion, is we are in [a situation] that will be as deep as slavery was to past generations. Because it is happening now, we are too close to see it. Like when a football player is playing on the field; sometimes he calls to the booth where they are watching the game from upstairs, and they can tell them strategically the best plays to run. We, as black people, are on the field, so we can't see. But by people being able to travel the world and see the same things happen in other places, I see myself kind of like in the booth.
I can say, "Do this" and "Do that." Now, I think before we can start moving up as a community, we all must have the same reality. Black people are divided in all kinds of ways. Some people think that dark-skin black people are worse than light-skin black people. Some people figure, "When I make money, I'm going to move to the suburbs"; others will stay where they are. So we have to say, "Well, look, goddamn it, here is what the situation is. We need to do this. How do we get from this to that?" Because if you don't see the problem, you are never looking for a solution.
NT: Speaking of the skin-color differences, there seems to be a lot of jungle fever going on out there, primarily brothers dating white girls. How do you feel about this?
Ice Cube: All that jungle fever comes from self-hatred. We need to learn how to love ourselves. The white man holds the white woman on a pedestal, and on all his forms of media: newspapers, television, magazines and so on. The black man sees that, and then he thinks that's what he needs to have. It's kinda like, if the white man likes it, we'll like it.
NT: Is it because African Americans don't have a sense of identity?
Ice Cube: We think we have an identity, which is really worse. We really don't know what it is to be free, but we think we are. What we are really doing is a smaller version of what the white man does. The white man says Lexus are the shit. Go and buy one. Now we got every motherfucker trying to buy one. Or he'll say you shouldn't like this man, because he is not good for America. You got people believing it, too. You see, he is so tricky with his media, which is basically his information distributor, that he can make you love Michael Jackson or he can make you hate Michael Jackson. And all in the matter of one day. We really don't know our identity. NT: So you think the media hold all the cards?
Ice Cube: Yes. Information is the total key. Whoever has the information and whoever is able to distribute the information is able to control the people. Because information runs the world. You pay a plumber to come fix your pipes, because he has the information and knowledge to do it, and you don't.
NT: You get a lot of pressure to set a positive example. Do you see yourself as a role model?
Ice Cube: Yeah, of course I do, but I see myself as me. Kids don't like to be told what to do and who to like and what not to like. Kids don't want to hear that fluffy shit. People don't understand that the power I have just by being straight up with the kids is stronger than the people who are trying to cover the kids' eyes and ears.