Darius Rucker Admits That “Everything Is Not Okay”

The Hard Conversations He's Had with His Son About Getting Pulled Over

You can watch this clip of Darius Rucker on the 3rd hour of the Today show from Friday (July 10) for a few different reasons.

1. To hear his laugh. It never, ever gets old.

2. To hear him talk about his new song “Beers and Sunshine,” the only B.S. he needs right now. He wrote the summertime tune with Ross Copperman, Josh Osborne and J.T. Harding.

3. To hear him get real about racism. Very, very real.

Rucker and NBC News’ Harry Smith sat down after playing some golf at the Troubadour Golf and Field Club about 25 miles south of downtown Nashville, and when the conversation turned to the Black Lives Matter movement and what it’s truly like to feel the harsh realities of racism, Rucker didn’t shy away from the topic. In fact, he said that being able to see racism through the eyes of his children has opened his eyes even more.

“Watching them go through this? Wow. I think they’re just at an age now where they look have to at it,” Rucker explained. “I’ve lived with racism my whole life. It made me realize that I just can’t keep living my life like everything is okay. Because everything is not okay. Really, you get to the point where you go, ’That’s just how it is.’ When I was going to radio stations and you’ve got guys telling me, ’We’re never gonna play you because you’re a black guy.’ Okay. That’s just the way it is.

“I can’t let somebody say something they shouldn’t say. One sentence could end your career in country music. Proven. Look at the Dixie Chicks,” he added, recalling the backlash the Chicks faced when frontwoman Natalie Maines said she was ashamed that President George W. Bush was from Texas. In London. In 2003. And the band still has haters even now, more than 17 years later.

“I’m sure I’ve already lost fans. I can’t live like that anymore,” Rucker says.

He even admitted that people might think that racism goes away when you’re a rich black man. But it doesn’t, he said. “I mean there are people who hate you more because you’re rich. My son is the youngest, and he’s about to start driving. And all the time we have to talk about: ’You get stopped, keep your hands on the wheel, don’t do anything until they tell you to do it.’ We’ve seen so many times when something as innocent as a traffic stop (happens) and all of the sudden someone gets shot. I don’t want that for my boy. I don’t want that for my daughter. I don’t want that for anybody,” he said.

As further proof that money doesn’t eliminate racism, Rucker talked about being stopped by police himself. Until the police recognize him and then suddenly everything is cool.

“I got stopped because I was a black guy in an expensive car. Okay. But it’s happened a million times. And the thing is, it’s not going to change until enough people say it’s wrong.

“It feels like so much of the country really wants some kind of change. So for me it feels different, and I hope I’m right.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro