In 2005, many political minded folks in the Hip Hop community are still spinning from the results of the 2004 elections. Many cats are still walking around depressed and angry. I see people talking about quitting. Politics is long term, and if you thought Hip Hop folks would change the world with one election- you were trippin’.
We took a great step forward in 2004. But it was still a baby step. Real politics is real long term. So we need to put in work NOW, if we plan to see anything different in 2008. Plus there are other smaller elections in between that time. So we need to get moving. Here are some simple steps you can take to move things forward in 2005.
1. Agree to read 6 books this year about political or social issues important to you.
My main struggle may not be your main struggle. But if you are really about electoral politics, or the environment, or prison issues you need to do your homework. Pick a cause and read about it. Then you bring that info to the table when issues come up. Remember, Hip Hop is only informed as you are. So get your knowledge on and kick real info at the conversations- not just opinions.
2. Slow down on the rap videos and take in a few political talk shows, and radio shows.
We all love Luda’s “Stand Up” and Mos Def’s “Ghetto Rock”. But how about drinking one or two less glasses of Alize and Gorilla Milk on Saturday night. That way you can wake up with enough clarity on Sunday to watch shows that will give you insights on key political issues of the day . I suggest Hardball and Meet the Press for starters. You might feel a bit outta the loop at first but keep watching. I also suggest picking up lectures by people you like. They could be old speeches by Malcolm X, Che, or Huey Newton, John Henrike Clark, Dr. Ben, Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir, - whoever interests you. They could also be video’s of speeches by spiritual and social leaders of your local area. Talk radio is also a good way to peep out what people are thinking in your area. In my area I like Davey D’s Hard Knock Radio. It’s pretty liberating to learn that the TV can be used for more than “dropping it likes its hot”.
1. Take the time to improve one thing about yourself this year.
Lets face it, we all need work. Some of us talk too much and listen too little (I’m one of those people). Some of us need to work on being nicer to strangers. Others need to get fit (LOSE THAT GUT!!). Some need to read more- whatever. The point is that if you take this time out, you’ll see how hard it is for people to CHANGE. Once you see that, hopefully it’ll make you be more compassionate with others when you look for quick changes in them. It builds patience inside and out.
1. Choose someone as a mentor, and be a mentor to someone younger than you.
One of the problems I see in the Hip Hop and Black and Brown communities especially- is a lack of going to the elders. This is a HUGE mistake. Because we can get a lot of perspective from our uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents and even the people who live across the hall from us. They saw how previous wars, elections etc., went down. They can help us to not make some of the mistakes they made in the past. Also, once you know something, be sure to kick it to someone younger than you. It costs you no money to care about someone else. So, invest.
1. Do some homework and join a political/social organization.
In the Hip Hop community we got HSAN, the National Hip Hop Convention folks, Project Islamic H.O.P.E., the League of Pissed off Voters, lots of people are putting in work different ways. Some of it is purely political, some of it is social activism, some of it is strictly college based. The point is that its easy to sit on the sidelines and talk about what groups could or should be doing to make things better for the people. Also, don’t be afraid to join the Democratic Party, Republican Party (y’all know I’m not checkin’ for Reps.- but I gotta be fair), Green Party- whoever. But YOU won’t know what needs to be done until you put in some time hands on for yourself. Like James Brown and Maceo say- GET INVOLVED!!!
Adisa Banjoko is author of the controversial book “Lyrical Swords Vol. 1: Hip Hop and Politics in the Mix”. Buy one now at www.lyricalswords.com !!