Distortion 2 Static, a public television show created a short segment called, "Word on the Street," which asks people what their opinions are on issues surrounding the state of our communities in the city. Yesterday evening inside the Women's Building on 18th St. in San Francisco, a handful of community members and a panel made up of a morning radio talk show host/ Chuy Gomez from 106.1 Kmel, an advocate for social change/ Silence the violence director Nichole Lee for The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a Journalist/(sorry mama I didn't catch your name...but she writes for various Bay Area publications and has written a few books), and SF State Teacher and Industry veteran Anthony Marshall( with two L's) continued the dialogs and began to scratch the surface of the issues that surround Hip Hop Culture. Honestly it was hefty topic to try to cover and as Chuy stated the people that could actually benefit from the discussion weren't in attendance. I'm going to attempt to give you the readers a breakdown of what the panel had to say and then... add my 2 cents. Topic #1: The adaption of "Hip Hop" or "Black" vernacular in popular culture. In other words, How do you feel about white people saying words like "bling," "you go girl," and "off the hook," in there speech. Everyone on the panel basically agreed that "hood" derived words used in a condescending way is rude and ignorant, but with the growth of public interest in Hip Hop and ready resources, it was something that was bound to happen, giving that even the American Heritage Dictionary and Websters have added Bling and Bootylicious to their definitions. As for myself...I believe that innovation and creativity stem from struggle and discourse, and since the majority of folks who are drawn to the energy of hip hop culture belong to a demographic that is drowning in struggle, then it's only natural that they come up with creative vernacular that reflect their experience and how they relate to the environment around them. And if and when the words hit the main stream then let them have it and create new ones, Just make sure they know where and why the word was derived, that way when it's written down in the books you have a true record of history.
Topic #2: Violence in Media and in Hip Hop
Nicole Lee, director of Silence the Violence, shared her most recent experience with violence and media. She spoke on how last Wednesday's Bay wide Silence the Violence Peace marches received some bad press when two 14 year old boys started to fight on the other end of the park from where they were holding their event in Oakland. The news sold it as a violent out break at a peace march. That although it held truth, it wasn't the main point of the event and was actually and exaple of why their program needs more community and media support.
Other panelist agreed that the problems of violence in American society supersede that of Hip Hop. Chuy touched on the mind state of the parents and community, telling their kids that they better not be no punks. Creating the soldier and then acting shocked when they act according to their socialization. They briefly mentioned, coping with trauma and the lack of resources with in the community to assist with mental and emotional health. And one of the ways to cope is to go numb. The lack of options for kids after school was also brought up.
The way I see it Media reports violence in order to promote fear with in the people. They do not inform about what is happening or make us aware of our ability to make a difference, the media just over sensationalizes violence and makes us all feel like victims. I believe that the people need to pull their heads out of their ass and be the change that they want to see. I do not believe that musicians and artist should be censored but I do believe that Hip Hop icons shouldn't glorify violence.
I've lost friends to violence, accidents, drugs, and to their own inability to cope with life. I've experinced and delivered abused. I've gone numb and due to some recent epiphanies, now I feel like I feel everything and when I started to feel again I didn't know how to place past experiences. I pushed many events to the side, saying that "it is what it is..." Or like Frank Sinatra said, "That's Life," without even dealling with any of my own feeling, not anger, not sadness, not confusion nothing... I just...depression and then trying to keep living on with my life as if they were all still here.
I believe that after experiencing violence there is a need for healling, there is a need to come to terms with death and life, all of which are difficult and complex topics to get a young person to understand especially when we are all still learning what it all means.
I think think:
The lack of strong positive male and female role models,
The lack of educational funding
Lack of after school activities
The Class divide and the stuggle for virtical motion for minorities in the job field
Lack of racial and cultural understanding
Too much sugar (Twinkies made me do it)
all contribute greatly to the state of violence, I believe that it doesn't help that violence and Hip Hop have been so closely related. Change needs to be made with out
I believe that with violence comes discipline and responsiblity (just as any power does), but there is a time and place and code of honor.
So this is a lot to bite chew and swallow. I'll leave the other two topics for tomorrow. Stay tuned for Topics #3 Technology and it's effects on Hip Hop Culture and #4 Is their hope for women in Hip Hop?