This year has been truly a nation wide grass root movement to remind people the significance of voting. With hot topics like the war in Iraq, a declining economy, civil liberties in jeopardy and the welfare of future generation, some of our celebrated superstars have helped bring urgency to the voting process. Hip-Hop jumpstarted a new wave of activism and awareness in the political arena. Celebrities like Beyoncé, Eminem, Will Smith, P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, 50 Cent, Diddy, Simmons and others have used their brand name to register voters around the country and use their marketable skills to promote social responsibility.
For a change, it is good to hear celebrities talking about important issues instead of materialistic things such as cars, jewelry and how much money they have. The Hip-Hop community has strayed somewhere along the way from their revolutionary roots of addressing social, economic and political issues. However, this year our community changed with a sudden 180-degree flip, becoming a predominant influence in this year’s election. The movement has been a great success, organizations like the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network and P Diddy’s Citizens of Change, both of which have registered innumerable new voters.
I cannot participate in this election due to my age, but these groups have had and profound affect on me and my generation. Not only has it motivated young people 18 and older to vote, it has planted a seed in the younger generation to become conscious of social issues and politically active. Voting has not only a hopeful action but cool. Everywhere you go you see some one with a “Vote or Die” shirt or registering voters. Younger Hip-Hop fans that are not able to vote are absorbing this conscious spirit and learning how to get involved in their community. People like Russell Simmons, will be pleased to know that the movement is helping young people to realize the power they posse within themselves to make changes in our government.
Thousands of young people (including some I know) are serving as interns and volunteers for campaigns and political organizations. We are doing anything from answering phones stuffing envelopes and knocking on doors to register voters. Young hip-hop fans are finding their place in the movement and are doing anything possible to help. On top of that, we are actively challenging our relatives and inner circle to stand up for their views no matter what candidate they choose.
Moreover, students joining political associated clubs in their school such as Young Democrats, Young Republican, mock trail and debate teams just to name a few. Students are now making politics a part of their daily life and discovering a connection between politics and real life. This exposure allows them to converse intelligently with their peers about different issues in politics and form their own opinion aside from their parent’s views.
But, Hip-Hop moguls, activist and those in the political trend, I have a comment. Going forward, educate yourself on how the political process works so your can further this youth foundation and increase the impact of voting. If this movement continues, the Hip-Hop generation can build REAL power at a political level. It is important that you remember your commitment to the younger generation. Don’t let this go and prove to us that all you care about is photo opportunities, sex, money and peddling your new album on us. Continue to strive for social justice.
The real question is after the 2004 election, “Will Hip-Hop continue to be a strong, committed, resolute and persistent force politic and activism?”