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

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Captivate The Youth With Truth...or else.

The youth vote – in particular the black youth vote – has been and will continue to be the area where civic participation could acquire the most in regards to a spike in numbers each election and voting cycle. The Black Youth Vote organization held an event last month – an annual event in its fifth year. I’ve worked with the BYV in 2000 when I was an editor for another politically themed web portal and the experience was quite rich. The dynamics of the time when I was working with this website were such that I had a definite focus on politics that touched on issues affecting the black community. I partnered with a lot of similar groups and we tried in earnest to tip the scales of what would be the most controversial election in my generation’s time. The wind was really knocked out of our sails just like what happened in 2004’s election and the question still remains. Is reaching out to popular entertainers and music artists the proper approach in strengthening voter blocs in the youth demographic?

Numbers indicate that the youth vote numbers were at record highs so we can definitely record the victory in that arena. However, there still exists a lack of true voter education – something I continually stress in any conversation about this matter. The next wave of celebrity participation has to employ a cadre of entertainers and icons that are actual voters, do know what the issues are and can effectively speak on those issues without sounding like cue card readers. Possible? Sure it is but the difficulty of that reality is the stars are being used for one thing: Their fame and notoriety gains them attention for the most minute of things. As I’ve said before about popular rappers and their ability to captivate the minds of the people, if these entertainers were savvy as, say, Jeanne Garofalo, the world would stop as a result of all the information they’d be able to convey with ease to their many fans – and not with a sales pitch in tow.

To sort of mark a side conversation into the world of race and voting, there is an interesting and heated primary senatorial race happening in Maryland. Former head of NAACP Kwesi Mfume is in an opposing stance with Jewish congressman Ben Cardin. There are many subplots revolving around the intense racial tension surrounding this race. Even Hip Hop mogul Russell Simmons (who’s learned to be come less of a peddler and more of a preacher) is in the mix with this one. Political races are usually filled with unkind words and allegations when there is a party opposition but all of this is coming from a Democratic primary standpoint and the barbs are really flying. If Mr. Mfume does secure the primary for himself, what other words will he have to endure? The man’s accomplishments should overshadow his faults but when you’re in public service, the public’s memory of your dalliances do not fade easily or are forgotten by your opponent. Stay tuned for this one as it proves to be explosive by the end.


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