Hip-Hop Nation

Hip-Hop Nation

The recent gathering of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, in
which musicians like Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, Alicia Keys and LL Cool
J protested New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s impending $358 million
cut in education funding, was a victory on many fronts. After the
demonstration, Mayor Bloomberg shelved his original plan and
reinstated almost $300 million to his budget proposal. Just as
important, the protest showcased hip-hop’s power as both a
political and cultural movement. However, as Bakari Kitwana tells
Suzy Hansen in Salon, this is no time for hip-hop
activists to rest satisfied.

Kitwana, author of ‘The Hip Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the
Crisis in African-American Culture,’ says that hip-hop can go
beyond what the civil rights movement accomplished through a
national organization that ‘taps into the vast economic power of
the hip-hop industry and focuses on education, employment and
incarceration.’

For hip-hop to create change, Kitwana adds, it must also lose its
celebrity focus and concentrate on the activists that make up the
movement: ‘We are immersed in a celebrity culture and when the
celebrities show up, it eclipses the importance of the work of the
activists,’ he says.

Kitwana also cautions against premature celebration. The protest
may have done much to reverse one policy, he says, but the work
isn’t done: ‘If they think they can show up one day to bring about
social change, then they are sadly mistaken. One rally does not a
revolution make.’
–Julie Madsen
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