I met David Mills in 1997. He was working on a book about Parliament Funkadelic and I had just graduated college. We were both in Cleveland for the band's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Once David found out I wasn't just a funk fan, but a writer as well, we exchanged information. We kept in touch via a funk newsgroup that was popular at the time, but once that fizzled, we rarely touched base. I found him again a few years ago on his blog, undercoverblackman.
Since Dave's death a few days ago in New Orleans, much has been written about him and his writing. He wrote scripts for E/R, Homicide: Life On The Street, The Wire as well as news and music articles for The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. One article he wrote changed the course of popular culture. While working for The Washington Times, Mills interviewed Public Enemy's Professor Griff and reported some anti-Semitic comments the group's "minister of information" made. The fallout from the article gave weight to the band's critics and Griff was ultimately booted from the group. Bitter PE fans still refer to this as "Enemygate."
Back then, as a die hard PE fan, I often wondered what kind of brother would let Professor Griff hang himself like that, considering the incredible impact the group had on black popular music. One day I realized that the David Mills I knew was the David Mills. As readers of his blog will remember, David's politics were a tad right of center and he viewed black nationalism as failed ideology. He posted on white supremacy web sites and they sometimes commented on his. One commenter on his blog charged that they shared some of the same views.
David's blog was one of the few that I frequented that didn't reinforce my own opinions and notions. His writing challenged me to think and rethink my positions. I rarely budged but sometimes he could sway me just a little. I'll miss that.