Hip Hop and Race Relations in America
“Rap is something you do, Hip-Hop is something you live.
” The difference between how Hip-Hop is portrayed (rap) and what the Hip-Hop movement Is, Is that Hip-Hop Is a lifestyle but the Hip-Hop we see on television Is a media creation. We have to look at hip-hop as a whole culture and rap as something that comes out of it. Although Hip-Hop was originated by a mostly Negro constituency, it has evolved since its creation into a “worldwide forum through which family, community, social and political grievances” (HOC) can be voiced through various art arms.Today, the Hip-Hop movement (if looked at as it’s meant to be looked at) plays a very positive role throughout the political and social spectrums In America, and Is helping to push America In the right direction. Hip-Hop has created a lot of social and cultural bridges that otherwise wouldn’t exist today. For example, the Hashish Jew reggae artist Mantissas is one of the most popular artists today. But would he ever have even thought to have become a Hip-Hop artist if Hip-Hop wasn’t such an accessible and open movement? “Hip-Hop is creating very interesting bridges across racial and ethnic communities,” says S.
Craig Watkins – a sociology professor at the university of Texas at Austin. Kay Kendall, also from the UT at Austin, says the “youth of different races and ethnicities are using the common ground of Hip-Hop to Interact in a more seamless fashion than their grandparents ever would have envisioned. Mass media and clever marketing have made it a small world after all. ” And even Russell Simmons, “the godfather of Hip-Hop”, says, “According to the statistics [of a recent survey], it seems that youth are much more likely to accept and embrace the differences between people in terms of culture, color, religion, and ethnicity than older Americans.Referring to the same statistics Dry. Benjamin Shaves said, “These diversity and the cultural transformation where ethnicity and race hopefully will not be seen as barriers or obstacles to progress and opportunity]” And Watkins enlightens us to the most obvious fact that has been sitting right beneath our nose yet has eluded us; that “if you’re considering [change in] American culture in the last [three] decades you have to look at Hip-Hop. The consensus seems to be that HIP- Hop Is helping to bring more people closer together than ever before.
Baker Sultana, an author/columnist who has written many books and articles on the subject, lives that hip hop has broken down more racial barriers than any other social development of the past three decades. But he also argues that Hip-Hop hasn’t done enough to pursue the goals of the movement, to help change the way things are today. “Hip hop has become the most visible voice for black culture;” says Kay Randall.However, it Is a very disorganized movement; most of the progress that It has made has been due to private organizations, such as Russell Simmons’ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and Hip-Hop Congress (HOC) which is located in 18 universities and three high schools nationwide. But with the correct leadership and a united Hip-Hop movement, such as a the creation of a national group to consolidate the movements goals might bring about, Kitting feels that the hip-hop movement today could become even more Influential the sass civil rights movement.He feels help push the envelope even further. It is a multimillion dollar industry with millions of followers, if those resources can be fully utilized it will increase the Hip-Hop movement’s power exponentially.
And, finally, this movement isn’t as narrow in scope as the civil rights movement was; the Hip-Hop movement today is focused on issues like education and employment for all people. The HOC can be used as a model for what Kitting thinks is necessary for today’s movement to be successful.The HOC goal “is to create a viable [worldwide] forum for people to learn, express themselves, interact with diverse ideas and cultures, and gain the tools they need to facilitate their own goals. ” This organizations goals are extremely ambitious, but the HOC doesn’t have the backing necessary to achieve their goals completely. However, that is exactly the problem that most groups face today. There are literally hundreds of organizations that have lofty goals, such as the HOC, but they don’t have the sources necessary to unite the Hip-Hop movement into an actual force.Nor do they have the leadership or the exposure necessary to overcome that major obstacle.
Right now the Hip-Hop movement is Just a vague notion, but with the right leadership it can become a dagger to be held to the throats of the people in power to demand equality for all people in America and eventually throughout the world. The fact that the Hip-Hop movement is often equated with something negative such as anti-black images, drugs, violence, and sex definitely detracts from the power of the movement.It strips the power the movement gains from its noble ambitions 0 the heart of the movement. But unless the public understands there is a difference between what the media portrays the Hip-Hop movement as and what the movement actually stands for, nothing will change. No progress will be made. Suez Hansen argues that “some black activists complain that the media mineralizes the good things about hip-hop, choosing to focus on the often misogynistic lyrics, flashy and violent music videos and Gangs’ image of its stars rather than its more socially conscious messages.Most people don’t understand that the “gangs” image is a very small aspect of Hip-Hop that doesn’t even coincide with the movements message! Kitting says, “if you can get past Pimps and hose’, hip-hop conveys the message of poor people not having jobs and having inadequate education.
” But this side of the movement, Ms. Hansen would agree, is rarely shown. I agree with Kitting 100%, but there is no way for people to get past the “pimps and hose” if they don’t know that something else exists.It’s incredible how successful this movement has been when most people only see en side of the issue, the “bad” side, and yet it has still brought about a lot of good. But it’s not enough, the potential this movement still has is enormous. This movement can bring about so much more good for America. But people need to see what the movement is about.
People need to understand that there is more to Hip- Hop than “bitched and money” as N. W. A (an abbreviation of “Naggers with Attitude”) so eloquently puts it.The movements true intentions need to be exposed before anything more can be done. Not everyone agrees that the hip hop movement is a positive movement along social and political lines. John Micrometer of the City Journal argues that “all the writers and thinkers [who] see a kind of informed political engagement, even a revolutionary potential, in rap and hip-hoop couldn’t be more wrong. ” He even goes so far to say, “By reinforcing the stereotypes that long hindered properly “authentic” response to a presumptively racist society retards black success.
Micrometer’s basis for why Hip-Hop fails to advance society towards color- blindness is rooted in the lyrics of Hip-Hop and rap songs and the images of the stars of Hip-Hop like 50 Cent. Stars who show off gunshot wounds in photographs in magazines. We’re sorely lacking in imagination if in 2006 we think that it signals progress when kids rattle off violent, sexist, nihilistic, lyrics, like Russians reciting Pushpin. ” Also, if stars like Sean Puffy Combs, a. K. A. P.
Daddy, who have more money than anyone knows what to do with, still continues to portray a Gangs’ image.It tells kids that “there’s nothing more authentic than ghetto pathology, even when you’ve got wealth beyond imagining. ” He feels that everything that is keeping Hip- Hop in the dark side of our society is due to the choices of words and actions that people involved in the movement make. For those who insist that even the invisible structures of society reinforce racism, the burden of proof should rest with them to explain Just why hip-hop’s bloody and sexist lyrics and videos and the criminal behavior of many rappers wouldn’t have a powerfully negative effect upon whites’ conception of black people. Essentially Micrometer’s argument is that the violent and sex-laden lyrics of Hip-Hop and rap negatively effect the “white persons” conception of Negroes. Micrometer does make some very appealing arguments as to why Hip-Hop is failing. And while I can agree with certain aspects of what he is saying, overall I hint that he is wrong.
There is simply too much evidence to support the progress that Hip-Hop, as a culture and lifestyle, has helped bring about.Also, Micrometer isn’t really talking about the Hip-Hop movement when he is talking about the debauchery that many popular rap songs say is okay to behave like. Remember KIRKS One, “rap is something you do, Hip-Hop is something you live. ” So while you can say that rap is part of Hip-Hop, you cannot say that rap is part of the Hip-Hop movement. According to Kay Randall “The negative baggage of things such as Gangs’ rap can overshadow the exuberance and freshness of these young people’s art. This is only because that is the only side of Hip-Hop that is shown.I think Baker Kitting said it best when he said, “If you can get past pimps and hose, Hip-Hop conveys the message of poor people not having Jobs and having inadequate education.
” The problem with Baker’s argument here is that the media is obsessed with rap as Hip-Hop. Therefore, everyone time a new rap song comes out that says “it’s okay to do drugs or beat a woman” it gives Hip-Hop a bad name. Every time something negative happens in the world of rap it negatively affects the world of Hip-Hop. But this is not how it was supposed to be.What rap has evolved into is far from its original intentions, and without understanding that, people will never be able to differentiate between rap and Hip-Hop. If people are unable to draw a distinction between rap and Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop will never be able to achieve the goals it set for itself. But I blame the media for this, because they’ve shown a one-sided argument for so long that people now think that rap is Hip-Hop.
When, in fact, it’s Just a small part of Hip-Hop, a small part that has been caught up in making money and has forgotten to push towards achieving the goals of the Hip-Hop movement.But unless the media starts showing the bulk of what the movement is pushing towards, the good that it is trying to achieve, Hip-Hop will lose the little progress it has made so far and may even bring hop movement has helped society make some great strides politically and, especially, socially. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect and it definitely doesn’t mean that the movement is complete. Hip-Hop has been around for a mere 30 years and has never been a unified movement. Under a united leader that can direct the movement in the correct direction there will be nothing that can stop Hip-Hop from accomplishing all its goals.The Hip-Hop movement has so much potential to achieve things that the civil rights movement couldn’t accomplish because of when it’s taking place. It has the economic power to push itself forward using campaigns and other political means to realize it’s goals.
It has the following and the voice, though the right one hasn’t been found yet, to make people listen. This movement has so much potential! This movement could become the greatest movement in the history of the United States if it finds a way to unify itself and obtains the right leader to guide it towards victory.