D.L. Chandler's frequent thoughts on the world of hip hop and beyond

Friday, September 03, 2004

This Is Rap For Real, Somethin' You Feel

The charged climate in NYC is most likely winding to a subdued end and a nation quietly suffers not. If you were present at the march that took place on the day before the RNC’s opening, you witnessed an amazing sight. The number of anti-Bush protestors was one astounding wave of humanity after another. The signs were filled with both interesting artwork and clever, eye-catching slogans calling for the republican collective to make their way out of the city.
After being in New York a few days, the energy of the folks I had the pleasure of speaking with from varying organizations was off the charts. I definitely wished I could’ve made it to the end of the convention to connect with more folks but I’m proud to say Music for America represented lovely.

I’ve been realizing as we’re nearing these last campaign months that what’s been missing is a stronger black and minority youth presence in these uprisings and protests. I’m always in and around the Washington D.C. metropolitan area but I hardly feel as though a lot of progressives get that these people have full right to not feel included. Political activism of the sort we’re used to seeing involves participants who are not only savvy, but have resources (computers, Net access, automobiles, etc) that allow them to comfortably speak to those who share their lifestyles and passions. Politics and political activism are definitely esoteric interests that need constant redefinition. The music and politics activist movement is perhaps the strongest bond to potential voters existing today. Online efforts such as ours (and of course, inspired by art and culture melding) are seemingly robust. Yet, these burgeoning motions are replete with the glaring fact that a large number of people of color do not enjoy the connection our other counterparts do.

For some, it could be a matter of education – whether that’s through higher learning or self appointed research. For others, plain old apathy is the recipe for a lot of unregistered voters remaining disdainful of all things political. The gap between the young bloods and the old jacks is wide simply because at the national level, these older politicians are very far-removed from anything on an urban or grassroots level. It’s not a concern to the older politicians to want to reach the inner city voter– at least not a genuine one. It’s a great campaign maker to say you’ll look out for those in the urban slices of America. The reality is this: The young people of all hues that reside where it is at all times tense, they could care less because who in the hell is caring about them? They thumb their noses at this electoral process because beyond being a number, the politicians of late have no messages that they can relate to or appreciate.

As harsh a reality that seems that is where we are. The Hip Hop political movement is definitely huge in attracting the inner city demographic but that’s not an issue. What is constantly and rightfully questioned is the sincerity of the messengers. It’s nearly becoming faddish to join up with this movement but none of the swelling number of the newly aware won't prosper if they’re not being taught what it means to live in a democracy. It is pointless to give folks fly slogan shirts and stiffly delivered catch lines if the lessons of democracy aren’t taught and respected. I’ve embraced a bit of a mantra lately. I intend to talk to the person, not down and not up. I need to be more direct and less passionate when I speak to people about my involvements in politics and what it means to be active. I’m going to learn how not to lose people in rhetoric and let them chew on facts, figures and shared experiences. We may soon forget that not everyone is going to have the tools necessary to walk in hand with the rest of us who are plugged into the frantic world of politics. More than any other failure, it would sting more to feel as though across the board we’re not as inclusive as we’d like to believe.


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