Robert Gee

Happy / Respectful / Inquisitive

GROWING UP: I’m from Philadelphia, born and raised. My educational background is Martin Luther King High in Philly. Then I did some college out here in Los Angeles.

CURRENT GIG: I am based here in Los Angeles now. I am a recording artist. I’m a performer in theater. Yes, I’m a triple threat from the east coast. I’ve been fortunate to do a lot theater in a movie town. But it’s been great for me. I’ve been recording an album which will be my second CD. It is totally amazing. I just signed a record deal so a lot of good things are going on right now.

EXPERIENCES WITH RACE: There are two things that stand out in my mind. When I was a teenager, I was coming home from choir rehearsal and something happened in my neighborhood and cops were speeding up and down the street, looking for someone. I just happened to get off the bus, walking with my Walkman on and my duffle bag. I am half a block from home, when a cop car speeds over ‘Hey you! Stop where you are!’ My Walkman is covering my ears, so at first I don’t even respond because I don’t hear them. So once I come to my senses and see that a cop car is pulled over to the side, lights are going, I take off my earphones to find one of the cops insanely angry. He says, ‘Stop where you are! Put your hands up!’ I said “Okay, yes sir, yes sir.” And there are two guys in the car. The one that’s telling me stop where you are, has a gun drawn. And he asks what’s in the bag? I told him, sir, it’s just a Walkman I’m coming from choir rehearsal.  He tells me to slowly lower the bag, then reach in. Keep in mind the whole time he is insanely angry and extremely hyper. And his partner is trying to talk him down. I’m half a block from home and can’t even believe this is happening. It was the first time for anything like this and I can’t believe it. I’m looking at my house and a gun is drawn at me by some angry cop.  And at the end of the day a purse had been snatched and of course they’re rounding up any young black man that was walking the streets at that time. I was horrified.  And when they opened up the bag to find that it was a Walkman the other cop was totally apologetic. But the first cop was still livid and kept his gun on me. I had to be maybe seventeen so I was like, is this really happening right now?

Then I fast forward to when I was living in Los Angeles and visiting a friend in Montana. I drove up early in the morning. I told her I was going to pick us up some McDonalds, as I got closer to her house. I went into McDonald’s, got the breakfast, got the coffee. And a car with four young white kids was driving through the parking lot, they rolled the windows down and yelled, “Get out of here you nigger!”.  Now I have never in my life been called that, which was really interesting. So I was really more in shock, thinking, what year is this? Two thousand and what? And a car full of young Caucasians is calling me that? Wooow. I was in shock. I stood there for the longest time just in shock. This is the twenty first century. I know that if I go check the music in their car right now, they’re probably listening to Dr. Dre and Snoop and Tupac and JayZ. They were children, which was so sad. Nobody in the car was twenty-one. They were babies and I know that. I still couldn’t believe it.  And then I was saddened but my initial reaction was shock. In the two thousands, this is going on? And I’m just coming out of McDonalds first thing in the morning. Needless to say, that was a very interesting day.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I would like people to know that I am a lover of all people. I think that’s the most important thing. I am a lover of great music.  I am a lover of family. I love my friends, my true blues. In life you’re blessed to get a couple of those. Your ride or dies., it is beautiful. I love humanity. And I know that all people cry, all people laugh, all people hurt. All people experience loneliness, great joy, great depression. There is so much alike in us that is the same. Those are the things that I look for in people, the unifying factor. Because if someone walked up to us right now and cut us both, we’re both going to bleed the same color and it’s going to hurt the same. So that’s exactly how I feel about humanity and it grieves me and it hurts my heart that the gross ignorance is still going on in the world. And I experienced it first hand.  We are all Gods’ children. I know we are all magnificent, beautiful beings. I just thing people are amazing. And we should look for those common things in one another, not the things that make us different from one another.

More over, most people actually do not expect me to have the temper that I have. But you’ve got to really really dig it out. I don’t wear it on my sleeve but it is the thing that people really do not expect. We all have a shadow. We all have that side of us. I mean if you turn it up, you’re going to see bad. And I think that that is the thing people see and say wow.  I am an entrepreneur so I’m a savvy negotiator. So I know how to go in that war room and take care of business. And a lot of people don’t expect that. A lot of people say ‘oh, he’s a sweetie’ and I am. But what’s the opposite polarization? Sour. That’s in there, it’s not all of me but it’s a part of me.

Photographed by Renee McMahon