Jon Batiste: If I Ruled The World

Marco Marcelline 10 September 2021

The Oscar and Golden Globe winning musician, author and activist shares his ideal vision of the world

Everybody would have to tell the truth, all the time.

Because if people told the truth, they will have less problems, less shame. And things will move along a lot quicker. Man, how much stuff will get done if people told the truth all the time? 

It's hard for people to tell the truth, because people always want to run from the truth, especially when it's ugly. But it would be great if people did the opposite of that and ran towards the discomfort.

I would have a very serious discussion about reparations for Black Americans.

Reparations are as real as we make it. Race is a construct, and we have made it real. And it has governed the way that we think and deal with each other and governed the way we categorise people. Souls are categorised based upon their skin colourlike think about how ridiculous that is.

Think about how ridiculous it is that a person is judged, and you can create a whole summation of who they are, by looking at them. It is a level of basic ignorance that we have accepted for centuries. So, if that is possible, I think reparations are also very possible. We decided that we want to go to the moon, so we can come up with a system to figure out how to pay Black people what is owed to them by the government.

Jon Batiste

The singer Jon Batiste won an Oscar this year along with Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor for making the soundtrack to Soul.

There would be free education for all.

I think that everybody needs to have the ability to educate themselves to the same degree. And when I say free education, I'm not saying the way things are now, i.e., public education that is subpar. I'm from Louisiana and sadly, in the south, you're talking about some of the worst public education in the world.  I’m talking about free education of a standard that is equal to the education that somebody would get if they were going to a formidable private school.

Education that will teach people languages, that will teach people things that they need to know to function in society. You know, people leave school, and they don't know how to how to do their taxes. They don't know how to speak any other language. They don't know anything about real history except for the boilerplate American history that we're taught.

"If people told the truth, they will have less problems, less shame"

Money would not be the currency that moves things along.

It would be skills or talents. Do you see the level of corruption that the amount of money and the dependence on money has created in the world; the level of corruption is insane.

And it's all based upon the fact that ‘I have more of these bills than you’. So, if it was actually based upon the content of a person's character, and the skillset that they bring to the table, we would have a true meritocracy. That would be incredible.

It would be mandatory that people would get paid maternity and paternity leave.

And everybody would have to have some sort of practice in the arts. This is about making space for people to live lives. It’s about carving out space for people to be anything other than just a consumer, or a part of the workforce.

All of these things are the richness of life and are the things that help us to actually attribute meaning to life. Family, and the arts, help us to create meaning and purpose out of our lives.

Jon Batiste's album WE ARE is out now on all streaming platforms

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