Anyone who knows Wu-Tang’s RZA knows he’s a man of chess. From “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” to his 2012 Liquid Swords special edition chess set bundle, the competitive chess player is now taking his knowledge of the game to the next level by funding a new chess program for at-risk youth.
Last week, RZA made a large donation to the Hip-Hop Chess Federation (HHCF), an organization that blends chess, performing arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu to build cognitive, creative and fitness levels of kids where violence and drop out rates are the highest. RZA’s also becoming a board member for the non-profit, and will help establish “Chess and Life Strategies,” a program that teaches the game to juvenile hall inmates in St. Louis.
Before making a donation, RZA sat down and played chess with some incarcerated kids and explained how the game helped him throughout his life. According to okayplayer, he told the kids, “Y’all are in here for not controlling your energy, yo, you are here now for not being analytical about the results of the actions you have taken. I’m the last one to talk in some senses. I’ve been through the same system…Me and my brother got our first gun, when I was 11 or 12…Riding NY city busses looking for what they call, a ‘vic.'”
While stressing how his immersion in literature and chess offered him a route to self-reflection and better decision-making, he elaborated on the benefits of the game:
“It’s a game of chess in one sense, but in another it’s a study of life,” he said. “We in the Hip-Hop Chess Federation are striving to bring awareness to American’s, to Black youth, but to the whole of American youth…. That chess study, along with martial arts, along with music- is the best way to help develop your mind and body and protect you from pitfalls in life that will surely come at you.”
Thanks, RZA – for not only be a bad motherfucker, but for also brilliantly putting your passion to a purpose and illustrating that kindness is badass.