by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford
‘It's time for the streets to rise up," says Rev. Lennox Yearwood, head of the Hip Hop Caucus, whose "Make Hip Hop, Not War" tour is traversing the country. The tour showcases the best political elements of Black youth culture - the "conscious" rap that huge media corporations have tried to eliminate from the airwaves, record stores and public discourse. The real "gangstas" are the U.S. government, and the poets of the people continue to tell the story. Contrary to the corporate media line, hip hop is not just about "nappy-headed hoes" - but the liberation of a people, and the unification of the world through the strongest cultural and political message that America has yet produced.
"Genuine hip hop culture is not gangsta rap, but reflects the core progressive character of Black America."
"Our president is addicted to war," said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, head of the Hip Hop Caucus, on the first leg of a national "Make Hip Hop, Not War" tour. "We knew that, but we held out hope that this congress would have done an intervention. But our congress is co-dependent. They act just like the person who is addicted, as well."
The young minister spoke at Manhattan's West Park Presbyterian Church, a magnificent edifice that has been condemned to death by gentrification, just as minority communities have been condemned to a slow death by the onrushing forces of hyper-capital. And as Black New Orleans was sentenced to death. "Instead of building levees, Bush built bombs," said Yearwood, who was raised in Louisiana.
The massive redistribution of America's wealth to the rapacious "defense" sector and the most wealthy segment of the population, if allowed to continue, will doom any hope of revitalization of the nation's inner cities, which are rapidly being dispersed by the same forces that that will soon raise million-dollar condominiums on the site of the West Park Presbyterian Church in New York City. We are all facing social death.
"'Instead of building levees, Bush built bombs,' said Yearwood."
Hip hop's massive international appeal has the potential to create rivers of communication among the sufferers. At the heart of the culture - the real one, not the industry-manufactured variety - is the essential internationalism and human compassion of the African American population-at-large, a culture that has been hijacked by huge corporations that put forward a caricature of Black life. An array of hip hop artists have joined with Rev. Yearwood to present the other face of Black culture and politics.
The national tour is designed to demonstrate that genuine hip hop culture is not gangsta rap, but reflects the core progressive character of Black America. "It's time for the streets to rise up, for us to rise up, to say that we are not caught up in that mess," said Rev. Yearwood.
Alternative media is key, since corporate media is the enemy - the purveyor of lies. "The revolution may not be televised, but it will be uploaded," Yearwood told the 200 or so folks who inaugurated the tour. "Humanity is counting on us."
There is much work to be done. In the United States, populations are methodically segmented by the corporate media, and white supremacy still rules even in leftist circles. "We noticed that during the immigration rallies, they were all brown, and during the Katrina rallies, they were mostly Black, and during the anti-war rallies, they were mostly white."
The hope is that a common language created by the Black culture of hip hop will bridge this gap in politically effective ways, rather than cosmetic ones. There are many performers willing to serve in this struggle. "Articulate," a rapper, educator, Howard University alumnus and activist from Washington, D.C. told the Manhattan crowd, "I think of myself as an artist for the people."
"The diversions of Black culture so effectively created by corporate America have allowed the marginalization of our best and brightest."
These "artists for the people" exist in every community, but must be supported by those who claim to represent Black America. The diversions of Black culture so effectively created by corporate America have allowed the marginalization of our best and brightest - the true cultural warriors and heroines.
The "Make Hip Hop, Not War" movement finds only lip-service support from the white-dominated anti-war "movement," which finds itself unable to include the most anti-war segment of the American public: Black people. Rosa Clemente, of Pacifica's New York radio station WBAI and a founder of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, says, "This is why the anti-war movement is not working. How are you going to have an anti-war movement that marginalizes Black people?"
Probably 80 percent of African Americans would support the ejection of George Bush from the White House. That's part of the agenda of the tour. "On April 28, when this tour is over, let it be impeachment day," said Rev. Yearwood.
If it were up to Black people, it would be so.
BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford