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

Friday, November 26, 2004

Civic Participation: The Last Frontier

While many of us are still digesting the holiday meals of the week, I’ve been on a continued quest to detect the pulse of what I still think can be a mighty movement – yet many seem to think since the passing of the election that civic participation is dead. The one thing that gives me pause to not agree is the fact that young people such as Amanda Rothman are reporting from her demographic with honesty and maturity beyond her years. This is why catching young people up in the frenzied world of politics – whether it’s using music or cool slogans to attract them – early on establishes a strong root. We cannot dumb everything down because as Talib Kweli once said to me in an interview, the people aren’t stupid.

That said I truly believe that many of the larger efforts to attract the youth (and black) vote through music started far too late. The big names got involved beyond the critical time to really establish a true connection with the people. It became a corny representation of making a serious political action and right some sort of "coolness" ritual. That is the wrong approach and I hope everyone – including us at MfA – will have taken heed to the things that went wrong with the “it’s hip to be voting‿ angle. There has to be an allowance for educating the voters and make it much more inclusive. Too many times I felt this strong Left-leaning stance behind the words of the organizers and there is nothing wrong with investing in what you believe in. However, there has to be flexibility to bring those who are fence straddling into the fold. It can’t be too Hip Hop, too punk or too rock. It has to be, and pardon how corny this may sound, a melting pot philosophy of inclusion.

As far as keeping the youth and minority voters interested, who knows what the future may hold. I’ve milled about the thought of holding classes on civics in the inner city and abroad but I’m not qualified enough to lead a group of students as such. I’ll continue to ponder ideas and thoughts as to aid in making the message heard and the lessons learned. As I’ve learned in the last three weeks, there is much I do not know about how the conservatives and Republicans reached out to their flock. I’m going to dedicate myself in recognizing every trend of outreach available as to better my efforts for those I wish to reach. This is going to take a collective effort and has to encompass many angles. It is a somewhat lonely road trying to connect so many varying dots but it is a task I’m more than willing to undertake. I know I have peers who believe as I do but there exists selfishness in myself to unmask the complexity of this on my own. Until then, I’ll keep trying to both provide you and myself with the answers to the facts I can actually speak upon. We must remember it does not end here.


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