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

Friday, October 08, 2004

Young People & Voting: Reaching Them Where They Are

It seems like our good buddy Hans Zeiger is showing his true blue colors again. In this column from the conservative super-boy (who seems to relish bad press so I won’t go shining him up too much this go-round), we’re invited yet again to his twisted philosophies and ideals. This whole “voting is a privilege‿ deal that our boy Hans is stuck on is mired in the same divisive and unilaterally snobbish conservative mindset that has set back many of his fellow conservatives for decades now. How can you place worth on a person based on what they may or may not know? Not everyone is as plugged into politics as many of us who write about it are. And it’s for good reason because much of what we report and discuss in our columns and articles is of a very esoteric nature. It seems in Mr. Zeiger's twisted utopia, no voter would’ve ever committed a felony and they’ve been exposed to the political rat race at an early age. Zeiger is a rarity – a young person with a sharp, if dangerously narrow, vision. He is certainly not a mainstream person and seems to be quite proud of it.

His worship of this lauded “republican government‿ is frightening. His high order of morality is equally as frightening. Now I do agree with him on one front: There is an hidden emphasis on all the wrong things that this democracy has to offer (freedom to do whatever, it seems). However, he articulates an almost perverse need to toss all of these singing MTV kids into the fire and brimstone. It mirrors a sort ethnic cleansing in some way.

I’ve often groaned at the academic approach to Hip Hop (although I too am about undertake the same path albeit I pray to do it differently). There is yet another book that attempts to do just that. That’s The Joint! The Hip Hop Studies Reader features previous works from writers who capture the essence of Hip Hop (more or less) from an educated person’s standpoint – and it’s exactly what we need less of. I’d like to hear more from hardcore participators who don’t have twelve letters after their names. The culture is embedded in me enough as it is – and for other supporters of the culture, academia is not where our culture thrives and grows. It’s the kids in the street we need to reach and they are not going to read any of this, I’m sorry to say. The problem with most movements of a headier nature is that it isn’t realistic to the strugglers – the people who live haggard lives and aren’t as enlightened as others. That doesn’t mean they should be put aside and not catered to. From political activism to Hip Hop education, there is never enough focus on the people that need to be brought along slowly. We sometimes forget that our passion for music and activism isn’t shared commonly.

In Oakland, a Hip Hop summit was held at Laney College this past Sunday featuring former members of the Black Panther Party as speakers. The Bay Area has always been a political hotbed and judging from the article, the security measures were perhaps unnecessarily excessive given the fact that many Panther members are not as dogmatic as they were in the 70s.

Check out this heartfelt piece from Panama Jackson – perhaps a good counter to the ultra-conservatism of Hans Zieger. I’d like to see these two face off in a public forum. Hell, I’d like to see myself square off with Happy Hans. We’ll work on that.


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