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article imageStop Being Famous: A chat with Ferrari Sheppard Special

By Layne Weiss     Nov 1, 2013 in World
Chicago - Today I had a conversation with Ferrari Sheppard, a journalist, artist, and editor-in-chief. Ferrari created, developed, and runs the website Stopbeingfamous.com
The newly relaunched Stop Being Famous began as a 'killing' joke," he tells me. "Dead serious but funny. I was interviewing notable stars. The name is a paradox. You can't really tell an artist to "Stop being famous," but you can find a balance between materialism and goodness, a duality within narcissism and a sense of community.
As an interviewer, Ferrari asks what he describes as bizarre questions. "I want my readers to feel like they had an acid trip," he says. For example, he asked Malcolm Jamal Warner who would win in a fight between him and Usher. These aren't questions stars are used to getting. They're asked about their latest movie or album. They like these bizarre, off-the-wall questions, and readers like their answers. "People want to know about the PERSON." Interviewers need to break through barriers. That's what Ferrari does.
Through his writing, his interviews, and his fearlessness, Ferrari has become quite notable on Twitter. He says what's on his mind. He doesn't know if he tells "the truth" because that's all relative, but he's not afraid of being honest. People are afraid of honesty. They're afraid of being judged or of making people upset. Ferrari realizes he's "popular" on Twitter, but it really means nothing to him. It's fleeting. Remember how many friends you had on MySpace? Probably not. His goal isn't to collect the most followers or even have everyone agree with him. "I secretly don't care about people who don't agree. "It's funny because if you're making people upset or making them smile, you're doing something," he says. I tell him about this artist I met at a festival. He told me he doesn't care if the fans love or hate him, He just wants to leave a mark. Ferrari might argue back and forth a bit with someone who questions something he's said, but in reality, he's just happy to being leaving a mark, to be inciting some type of reaction. That's what social media should be about. Not how many followers someone has. That doesn't measure one's intellect.
Ferrari tweets things that we may be thinking or afraid to say or maybe we didn't even know we were thinking them. I've told him this a few times. Our talk today was no different. He was honest.
A while back, he wrote that one of his friend's young daughters asked if "God hates black people." This little girl sees poverty, she sees shootings, she sees racial profiling. She's a kid, Her parents want to protect her. They can withhold the truth verbally, but she sees it. I asked Ferrari what he thought. "Does God hate black people?" And to answer that, he took me back to his childhood. He grew up with a black-christian mother with a little Jehovah's witness thrown into the mix. He accepted his religion so much that it made him scared to cross the street. Like what if he got hit by a car and "went to hell for not praying enough?" But as he got a little older, he started to realize, he's praying blindly cause that's what he was taught, but he's not seeing God. He's not seeing the Holy Spirit. He's seeing red dots. So he began to question religion. His ancestors were slaves compacted like sardines, raped in front of their husbands. Where was God? The Bible tells us to love our enemy, but why would we want to do that? He also noticed that people "find God in the worst places." We call on God when we're struggling in some way. But is he there for us? He gave me this analogy: Look at ants. Ants leave behind hills. They build something. People leave things behind too, but it's different. Right before his grandfather died, he gave Ferrari three things: A losing lottery ticket, a pair of dice, and cuff links. Yes, he was leaving something behind, but "you'd think it would be more than cufflinks." And that's not saying he wasn't appreciative, but look at what ants leave and then look at what we leave.
We can pray to God. We can call on him to save us from our financial struggle or we can accept that "systems" are designed to keep poor people poor and rich people rich. Paris Hilton can totally f**k her life up, and she'll never be homeless. She always has resources, but poor people stay in poverty for generations, so where's God? Sure, we have examples of people who defied the odds and became major stars. Look at Jay-Z and Oprah, but those are special circumstances. For most people, this is a "pipe dream." Religion gives them false hope that everything will just suddenly get better. People develop this blind faith because they are afraid to accept where they are. Yet resources are abundant and kept from the poor. The government always wants to take and not give. Maybe we don't need a government. "We've never seen what it would be like without a leader." People beg government to make violence go away, and what does the government do? It creates violence.
The late George Carlin probably summed it up best with this quote: "Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. F*ck Hope."
Should we just say f**k it and accept where we are? Not necessarily, but we should accept that God might not save us like he saved the Jews in Egypt. God isn't the solution to violence or poverty. "There are no solutions until you open up your mind," Ferrari says.
But to answer my question..."I don't think God hates black people," Ferrari tells me. "But I wonder....Is God capable of hate or love? Look at Adam and Eve. They were out there naked, no clothes, no shelter. They were just sort of tossed into the world. I mean if we believe in the Bible, shouldn't we question this? How much love did God really give to Adam and Eve? How much love is he really giving to all of us?
"I don't know what God is," Ferrari says, "but it ain't the shit we've been told." Some people find peace in God. Ferrari has found peace in not caring anymore. "I'm still me." All Ferrari can really say about God is whatever it is is what the world has reflected it to be." A lot of us believe differently, of course. And it's ok to have faith. All this might some depressing or even infuriating to many people. But let's just say we're living in the afterworld and we meet God. We may discover survival was never about believing in him or following his word, it was simply about taking what we needed. God might even laugh at us for praying to him, reading his works and doing nothing else, Ferrari joked.
"God hates black people" should be a bumper sticker, he says.
As the conversation continued, Ferrari told me he's been called racist. "I just don't love people who don't love me. Anyone who judges me because of my race, f**k them." And then he mentioned a close irish friend of his. One night, both were stopped and harassed by police. Not surprisingly, Ferrari had it worse. Later, he tried to explain the difference, but his pasty-white irish friend stopped him and said, "I can't understand cause I'm not black," and that was one of the greatest things Ferrari has ever heard. Yesterday, Ferrari did an interview with Brother Ali. The two have been friends for some time now. Brother Ali is albino. He told Ferrari that journalists used to ask him if he was white or black. He didn't know how to answer. His skin color is obviously white, but he speaks and raps in black diction. Ali actually became ashamed of being white because a lot of people thought he was black. They expected him to be black, so he began to relate more and more with being black. Brother Ali is albino and legally blind. He's been oppressed. "If you experience something oppressive you relate more to the oppressed," Ferrari says. "On a large scale, blacks are more accepting of whites than whites are of blacks." Or maybe blacks are just more accepting of the oppressed because they can empathize. I've never thought about who hates who more. Maybe hate is the wrong word. I've never thought about who is more accepting. It's really all relative, I guess.
Whites were part of the Civil Rights Movement, but did they truly get it? Hippies were all "Lets smoke pot. We don't see color, we're a rainbow," but those hippies own Fortune 500 companies now. It's not all peace and love anymore. Everything changed when the police started killing the Black Panthers. Whenever there's some kind of crisis, a "good, kind hearted" white person will always go down to help, but are their intentions pure? Or is this just a trend. "Look at me!! I'm saving this BLACK baby!" A student once asked Malcolm X what to do for the struggle. He said "nothing." The point is we have certain privileges based on who we are. We can't help that. Women have certain privileges that men don't have and vice-versa. White people have privileges that black people don't have. It's a depressing thought, but it's reality. Whites can't just stop having white privilege, but they also don't have to "be part of the problem." We all just have to be honest about our positions. Do we really care? Do we really wanna help? Are we doing it cause we see our favorite celebrity down in Haiti and we think it's cool?
I find Ferrari to be one of the deepest people I know, and at this point, whether you love him or hate him, you might agree. So I ask him about shallow/dense people, which turns into a conversation about the media. "A woman's poor body image doesn't just happen naturally." Ferrari tells me a story about these women in Fiji. They were fine with their bodies until they got more westernized TV. Then they began questioning themselves, and developed eating disorders. The media makes us believe that if we take a certain pill or buy new makeup, we'll suddenly feel better. Advertising used to be about selling an actual product. Like "Buy these shoes, they're sharp and they'll last you eight years!" The ad would then focus on the actual shoe. But then Edward Bernays came along, the king of public relations, and he changed all that. He stopped selling the shoe, and started selling the emotion. "Buy these shoes, you'll feel more popular." Advertising became about equating products with happiness. And that "happiness" lasts about five minutes. Literally. It's fleeting. Material goods don't make people truly happy.
Finally, Ferrari and I talk a bit about music. He's put me onto some artists such as MF Grimm and Shabazz Palaces.
. His other favorites include Sun Ra
and Joey Bada$$.
In the end, this was unlike any interview I've ever done. Ferrari said some controversial things. But like he said, he's not afraid to be honest, to state what he feels. You might disagree, you might go have a really heated debate with him, but if he's made you happy or he's made you upset or if he's taught you anything, he's done something.
Nothing here was said to offend anyone. "I come in peace," Ferrari says.
Don't forget to check out Ferrari's website, StopBeingFamous.com.
More about God, Class, Racism, stop being famous, Interviews
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