Tom Morello says “racism is as American as apple pie and baseball”

"There’s a large part of my fan base that freaks the fuck out when I say that I’m black"

Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine has spoken of his experiences with racism and encounters with the KKK.

During a new Q&A with Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds, the Bloody Beetroots and Shea Diamond, Morello said he believes that “racism in this country is as American as apple pie and baseball”.

Morello also spoke of his experiences with encountering the Ku Klux Klan while growing up in Libertyville, Illinois, and being pulled over by the police while Rage Against The Machine were at the height of their fame.


“In the height of Rage Against the Machine’s fame and fortune, I was pulled over and handcuffed on the side of IL-176, which runs through town, just coming home from the local bar because I was walking while Black in Libertyville,” Morello said.

“In Los Angeles, dozens of times, I was pulled over when driving, going on official band business but in my old Chevy Astro van when I was driving through Beverly Hills. ‘Why is there a thirty-something-year-old Black man in this neighbourhood?’

“It’s a constant background noise for those of us who have experienced it and something you can’t really reach or understand if you haven’t experienced it.”

Morello continued: “A curious part of my history is that I’ve ‘changed colour’ through the years. This is what I mean. In the town where I grew up, I was the only Black person. Once, there was a noose in my family’s garage, there was the occasional burned cross on the lawn, and my mom, who was a public high school teacher, had some of the most horrific racist stuff pinned to her chalkboard.

“Then, I was in a popular band that had songs that were predominantly played on white, rock-oriented stations, the way I speak is not typically urban vernacular, and there’s a large part of my fan base that freaks the fuck out when I say that I’m Black.


“Like, they don’t want to hear it, they doubt it and it surfaces once a month whether it’s Twitter or Instagram where I say something about being Black. They’re like, ‘You’re not Black!’ I assure you that the Northern Illinois Ku Klux Klan thinks that I am.”

The new conversation followed on for Morello recently sharing new track ‘Stand Up’, with Reynolds, Diamond and the Bloody Beetroots. “This country certainly needs fixing, and I believe it will take people from all sides and colours to fix it,” Reynolds said when announcing the track.

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