The 21st Show

Interview: State Sen. Scott Bennett on Race, Police And Cannabis

State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) Photo courtesy of State Sen. Scott Bennett

While regular host Brian Mackey takes time for vacation, Lamont Holden is filling in as guest host. Holden is a music instructor at the Unviersity of Illinois Urbana Champaign. He is also a podcast host, videographer and sound designer.  In August 2020, Holden wrote a News Gazette article on being Black in America. After reading it, State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) reached out to have a conversation. Both of them joined The 21st to discuss cannabis policy, gun violence and improving community relations with law enforcement. 


State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)


The following is Lamont's article:

'I’m afraid to die. I think about it every day. I consider my own mortality daily.'

I am having trouble existing in the world. I am traumatized and exhausted. I’m glad I had to teach this week because it gave me an escape.

It’s hard to be Black every day. It’s hard. I’m tired.

I have to admit that my life has prepared me for the everyday, run-of-the-mill oppression that I’m tasked to fight and work in advocacy against on behalf of others but this is different.

I’m afraid to die. I think about it every day. I consider my own mortality daily.

I’m too young for that. I don’t have a terminal illness. It’s a paranoia and a fear and weight that is inescapable and very real.

I know my Black peers feel that way. I wonder how that affects their jobs and their lives and raising their children, amid a pandemic.

What I’m talking about is a virtual free fire zone that surrounds Black people trying to just live every day. I have to guard my heart against hate. I have to try and be the same person with the same morals and belief in equity. I have to carry a disposition of non-judgment while I have a growing fear of White people I don’t know.

I have a burgeoning hatred in my heart for police officers. I don’t carry something such as hate lightly because a.) that is not the person I desire to be nor is it the person I was raised to be and b.) to be black and to be hated is to have empathy for what it’s like to be hated.

I’m a leader of my community. People look to me for insight. What am I supposed to do?

By the grace of the creator, I have so much to live for.

Despite the worst thoughts that cross my mind, I’m still in search of constructive solutions. What do I tell the 19-year-old Black kid that knows this country has nothing for him and he’s ready to do the unthinkable?

I just want to be OK and I want to make sure other people are OK. We still have to try to be our best selves in this climate. I think that’s what I’m speaking to.

It’s PTSD.


Prepared for web by Zainab Qureshi

Help shape our coverage on The 21st by joining our texting group and answering weekly questions. To join, text “TALK” to 217-803-0730 or sign up with your phone number below: