Beginning this weekend, there will be two celebrations of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – one on Saturday, Aug. 24 and another one on Aug. 28, the actual anniversary of the march. Yet, I haven't heard or seen much enthusiasm from the Hip Hop community and began to wonder what it is going to take to bridge the gap between these two generations. While no one can argue the importance and significance of the original March, we may have to pull teeth to get this generation to participate wholeheartedly. Let's examine why.
If you analyze many Hip Hop songs, the content contains much of what each individual sees or interprets during their life experience. Many even fabricate or over exaggerate their experiences to emphasize their point. Listeners respond because they can relate to or vividly visualize the subject matter.
When it comes to the Civil Rights Movement, young people simply don't see the benefit. Hip Hop has a 'prove it to me' mentality. It is also suffers from an instant gratification syndrome. If we want to successfully connect the generations we have to present a transparent agenda that leads to direct and tangible results for everyone. The Hip Hop community analyzes through sharp lenses and is slow to trust anything that is presented by people who are considered outsiders. That is also why anyone who poses as Hip Hop's ally gets away like a fat rat.
Tyrone Price, a loyal follower of Hip Hop and the Five Percent Nation, says he is sick of the illusions. He reasons, "You only have one time to convince me that the apple is green, before I look at it and see that its red and after that I will never trust you again. I feel that way about civil rights leaders. I am tired of hearing that things are going to change if I go out an March for their agenda. Things haven't changed."
I also reached out to 24 Hours of Peace founder and Hip Hop artist Hakim Green from Channel Live to weigh in with his perspective, "Considering it's the 50th anniversary of the March, it's a shame that we aren't more focused on it and haven't risen to the level that inspired the original March. I don't understand why our elders haven't been galvanizing people to honor the 50th anniversary as soon as President Obama started his second term in office. The Million Man March for me was the commemorative event that carried the spirit of the March on Washington. Even though I can't make it, I hope the outcome is quality over quantity, and the right people show up to Washington."
When asked about the lack of interest in the Hip Hop community, Hakim further emphasized that Rap community, (not to be confused with the Hip Hop community) is not in tune.
Hakim's 3nd annual 24 Hours of Peace Event in Newark, N.J., sponsored by Councilman Ras Baraka, will provide a local forum for those unable to attend the Aug. 25 march in Washington. Hip Hop artists Brand Nubian, Dead Prez, EPMD, Wise Professor, Mr. Cheeks, Naughty By Nature, Jasiri X, Redman, Lakim Shabazz and Savion Glover have all answered the call to use their voices to end violence and uplift the cause in the 24 hours from 6 p.m. on Aug. 23 to 6 p.m. on Aug. 24. Hakim explained, "There is a large amount of work still to do, I hope we honor peace over violence, love over hate and building over destroying."
Another recording artist, P.S. Dot, said, "I appreciate and definitely respect it, (the 50th anniversary march) but there is so much that needs to be done. While we have a Black president in office, we still have incidents like Trayvon Martin with virtually the same response we had 50 years ago. Nothing. Personally, I feel like there needs to be a new avenue of protest. We in the Hip Hop community need to know what is the next course of action. There is only a certain amount of times I am going to ask for something before I start demanding.
"We had 400-500 years of physical oppression and 100 years of institutionalized racism and that can't be eradicated with a Civil Rights Movement or affirmative action. A portion of the Hip Hop community will attend, but we must remember that in the Hip Hop community, there is a large gap between the haves and the have-nots and the have-nots don't consider marching as a viable answer. I don't either."
It seems like we still have some convincing to do. (For additional information, log on to 24hrsofpeace.wordpress.com).
Jineea Butler, founder of the Social Services of Hip Hop and the Hip Hop Union is a Hip Hop Analyst who investigates the trends and behaviors of the community and delivers programming that solves the Hip Hop Dilemma. She can be reached at [email protected] or Tweet her at @flygirlladyjay