The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conferences (ALC) are known for their intense town hall meetings and often heated panel/workshop discussions. This year’s 46th conference was no different. One workshop in particular, however, always manages to cause quite a storm.
Every year, Indiana Congressman Andre Carson hosts a “Hip Hop & Politics” panel that attempts to show the correlation between the two arenas. It was moderated by "News One Now" host Roland Martin. This year’s conversation - which was held on Friday Sept. 16 -focused on the role that Hip Hop artists and activists play in the shaping of public policy. The workshop always attracts a huge crowd consisting primarily of young people ranging from teenagers to those in their early to mid-thirties. And it possibly attracts this demographic more than any other ALC workshop-including the ones that are youth focused.
Panelists included many prominent luminaries such: AllHipHop's CEO Chuck Creekmur, Justice League-NYC Executive Director Carmen Perez, former National Action Network Executive Director Tamika Mallory, Hip Hop Nation Executive Director Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Political commentator Angela Rye, and veteran radio host Star formerly of the “Star and Buck Wild” show.
Given the current climate it doesn’t take a psychic to know that the discussion would center on the Black Lives Matters (BLM) movement and the pandemic of police shootings of Black men across the country.
In the beginning of the discussion, Martin addressed critics of BLM and other organizations protesting police brutality who have accused these groups of ineffectiveness. The News One host defended the efforts of these activists.
“At no time in American history have we seen this level of accountability on a federal, state, and local level when it comes to police," Martin said. "The reality is without the last three years of activism in the streets to change public policy we would not be having the level of discussions from the president all the way down if it wasn’t for this movement.”
Star addressed the double standard in the negative labeling of BLM as a terrorist group in many conservative circles. “It’s important to know some of the groups from the past that were actually terrorist groups. Is anyone familiar with the Weather Underground (an American militant radical left-wing group)?" Martin asked. "Their mission statement clearly once upon a time ‘We’re not opposed to violence.’ They blew up buildings. They did violent things here in America and were not hunted down in the way that Black Lives is.”
He continued by admonishing critics for unfairly judging the group without fully researching it. “It’s really sad to see the videos on YouTube and the internet condemning Black Lives Matter without even giving them a chance to disprove the accusations. And without knowing the history of other groups that were actually terrorists.”
The election came up after Martin asked commentator Angela Rye “What’s next?” in the steps to end police shootings of African-Americans.
Rye responded by addressing this as well as other issues affecting the African-American community. “I don’t want to answer ‘What’s next?’ because we have a ‘What’s now?’ problem. And when I say that I’m not just speaking about police brutality. I wish I was. I wish it was just one issue.”
She mentioned that one of things African-Americans should be concerned about is GOP Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump who has made several controversial remarks regarding Mexicans, Blacks, and Muslims that many have deemed to be racist. Rye also mentioned that while the panel discussion was taken place members of the Congressional Black Caucus were holding a press conference to denounce GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.
One issue that was also addressed was disunity among black activists. In recent months controversy has arisen regarding support or lack thereof among activists across the country.
Former Tamika Mallory, a passionate, dedicated truth-teller, who has been protesting against police brutality and gun violence since her days as a teen activist weighed in.
“These same Black people who in many cases are Black leaders and who are supposed to be supporting the Black Lives Matter movement have been the very ones out here speaking against it and trying not to support it while at the same time putting us down.”
She also reminded the audience that activists fighting against police brutality has been taken place well for well over two decades and that white media has incorrectly presented the fairly recently formed Black Lives Matter as the face of the movement.
Roland Martin asked AllHipHop co-founder and CEO Chuck Creekmur about steps that should be taken to counter police misconduct. He proposed that African-Americans form a wise plan.
“We have to play the ‘inside outside’ game. Right now I consider myself an ‘outsider’ and I think Black Lives Matter as well as other similar groups that are agitators and protectors of the community are considered ‘outsiders’.”
Creekmur proposed a possible strategy. “It’s time for us to basically infiltrate those police agencies, political offices, and places of power where we are being marginalized and basically assaulted. We need to run for offices and groom leaders who have our best interests at heart. If we understand that we’re at war, we will move more strategically, practically, and more intelligently. We’ll play the game as the enemy plays it.”
The workshop ended with a spoken word performance by New York based lyricist Mysonne.