IGNITE 2012: AN INTERVIEW WITH TARIK ROSS & RAPPER DEE-1
Tarik Ross of Stampede Management gives Mic Check some advice on how to communicate better with the community we serve.
Also, we talk to rapper, Dee-1 about what motivates him to stay involved in the political process and community activism. Check the video below the cut.
DISCLAIMER: Audio is loud, you may want to adjust your volume. Thanks for watching!
IGNITE 2012: AN INTERVIEW WITH KIM OSORIO
Lana Adams of Mic Check 1-Two caught up with the Editor In Chief of SOURCE Magazine, Kim Osorio during the Ignite Tour 2012 in Philadelphia.
IGNITE 2012: AN INTERVIEW WITH BIKO BAKER
Biko Baker is the Executive Director of the League of Young Voters. We caught up with him during the Ignite 2012 Tour in Philadelphia to find out more about Ignite 2012 and his passion for civic engagement and the importance of the youth vote. Check out his interview with Mic Check’s Latiaynna Tabb below the cut.
IGNITE 2012 EVENT COVERAGE
October 14, 2012
“Well, should Obama be the president of Black America?” –This question has been raised increasingly since the 2008 Presidential election, and it was now being posed to a group of writers, entertainment personalities and hip-hop artists on a breezy Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.
This controversial topic was one of many during the first panel of the day for the final stop on the Ignite 2012 tour. Panelists included, hip-hop journalist Dream Hampton, former host of BET’s 106 & Park, Rocsi Diaz, SOURCE Magazine, Editor-In-Chief, Kim Osorio and many other community leaders and activists.
“Could Obama do more?” —“Yes,” Rocsi Diaz interjected but, she’s happy with the work that the president has done for the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The president signed The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 2010 which included a proposed $98 million increase to funding for HBCU’s. Diaz added that Governor Mitt Romney is very open about the demographic he represents and serves and that there is nothing wrong with the President supporting African Americans.
Panelist Deion Jordan, a seventeen-year-old young leader and member of The Philadelphia Youth Commission, entered the conversation claiming that Blacks in America need to see themselves not as “Black Americans” but as Americans.
“I consider myself an American. Race is philosophical nonsense,” Jordan added.
The crowd erupted into an uproar with this comment but moderator Biko Baker, Executive Director of The League of Young Voters politely asked the crowd to let the young man speak.
Jordan, pointed out that there are many credible universities that don’t qualify as HBCU’s that are in need of funding as well. Jordan will be attending Haverford College upon graduating from High School next year.
Hip-hop journalist, Dream Hampton, added that the POTUS should feel a responsibility to represent the African-American community because of the integral part the community played in getting the president elected. Exit polls from 2008 show that President Obama won approximately 96% of the black vote, with Black women voting at higher percentages than black men.
The feeling of abandonment when it comes to the president’s representation of issues plaguing African-Americans is not new at all. Most of the panelists agreed that many blacks begin to separate themselves from the community upon becoming successful.
“With successful people, it seems as if blacks are scared to be black [publicly], there is a sense that when you speak out on something that is a “black issue” and you have some sort of esteem, you are doing something wrong– as if, when you endorse your own, it’s seen as reverse racism,” journalist Andreas Hale added.
SOURCE magazine Editor-In-Chief, Kim Osorio agreed with Hale’s theory of desertion as she recounted the many artists whose careers were launched by The Source magazine, but who decline interviews when asked now.
“Certain artists get to a certain level and they don’t want to do The Source anymore; they’d rather be on Rolling Stone or GQ,” Osorio said.
Many of the megastars like Sean “P.Diddy” Combs and Jay-Z have used their influence to encourage people to get involved with the political process. One may recall the excitement behind the “Rock The Vote” movement during the 2008 Presidential campaign.
I too, remember being in my sophomore year at Temple University running down Broad Street to see Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce and other stars perform for free to get the youth mobilized about voting.
Many, including rapper and panelist, Jasiri X, have wondered if the hip-hop community has fallen short in the months leading up to November’s presidential election with efforts to keep the youth motivated and engaged in the political process.
Tarik Ross, of Stampede Management believes that when it comes to hip-hop’s role in civic engagement, it is just a different time. Ross doesn’t believe today’s artists can be compared with emcees like KRS-1, and other more conscious rappers from the 90’s. “Hip-hop culture is still just as powerful, there’s just less focus on being lyricists,” Ross said.
Dream Hampton, who co-authored rapper Jay-Z’s book, “Decoded,” doesn’t believe the hip-hop community should be expected to do anything.
“Jay is doing what he can do,” Hampton said. “Why is he held to such high political responsibility? It’s our responsibility to peer educate; all of these wannabe rappers should want to be activists. Would it be nice if the mainstream artists cared more? — “Yes” but, Hampton added, “each individual, no matter your occupation, should help one another [become more politically aware], not just celebrities. Churches and spiritual leaders should be leading those movements; we need more youth leaders.”
Hampton isn’t a fan of this sensationalized popular idea of “celebrity”, which is one of the reasons she asked not to be photographed and declined my request for an on-camera interview. Hampton talked candidly with me about the power and influence of social media and how enthralled our generation is with sharing ourselves so freely through pictures, and constant status updates.
Other panel discussion topics included how men in the hip-hop industry can do a better job of protecting African American women.
“Be intentional about what we do; stop supporting women that take their clothes off to rap and stop being afraid to love,” Hip-Hop pioneer, Paradise Gray offered as one way to make a change for black women in the hip-hop industry.
Brandon Wyche, CEO of Hiphopsince1987.com believes that more “respect records” should be made for women to set a trend while Tarik Ross believes we should be honoring the women in our community that are making positive strides.
Kim Osorio knows how hard it is to be a woman in the male dominated industry of hip-hop all too well, having won a lawsuit filed against The Source Magazine in 2006 claiming unlawful termination for filing a complaint of gender discrimination, as well as a defamation suit against the owners of the magazine.
Osorio credits the misogynistic views of women in the industry partly to the current sensationalism with female exotic dancers. Osorio also wants women to be responsible and held accountable for “not always doing things that are constructive,” which adds to the negative portrayal of women of color in hip-hop culture. She wants people to understand that these things are for entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously.
The issue of violence and its alarming rates in the African American community was another topic of discussion.
“It makes people too much money,” Paradise Gray said. Gray noted that the images of violence in hip-hop serve as a perpetual money-maker for businesses which set young black men up for jail or death.
Rapper and activist Jasiri X, cited that blacks are to blame as well for the perpetuation of violence by supporting many of the violent images and artists. “Through our own dollars, we finance our own destruction,” X said.
The conversation closed with a performance by Rapper Dee 1 and a charge to the young people to stay motivated and involved with the community.
The event was organized by The League of Young Voters Education Fund and The Philadelphia Youth Commission.
View event photos here.
August 8, 2012
A woman in her 60’s was killed the other day. In her neighborhood. She was the mother of nine. Nine children. Her neighbors said she was a pleasant woman who could be found outside sweeping the sidewalk outside of her home. Her son said she was always quoting Bible verses. She was shot in the back of the head and left for dead in an alley near her home.
A 51-year-old woman was beaten and robbed today, by a ten-year old boy. A ten-year -old boy. Police say his accomplices were ages 9 and 7. He’s Hispanic–because I know you’re googling the story now just to make sure it wasn’t “one of us”, but it was, wasn’t it?
There is a war going on out here. The violence against women and children is increasing at alarming rates. Not to mention, our young men. But we rally, and we wear T-Shirts and we blog about it. (Exhibit A, I’m apart of the problem). Oh and we march, boy, do we march. Then we go home, and lock our doors, and ignore the suspicious looking activity on the corners because we’ve got to live in this hood, and we know that boy’s mother and couldn’t stand to send him to jail. Until, of course, he’s standing over us with a pipe, demanding money. Or until, that “crazy, fast, girl from up the street” is found dead, on that little block, where you never park your car. But you won’t tell police about that scream you “may have heard”, because, who will hear yours? You have to protect yourself. Isn’t that the way to win a war? Protect yourself; beat the opponent to the punch, or to the shot, or to the wound, or, to the grave. Pick one. Survival of the fittest. But if the armor of protection still ends in death and tragedy, what good is the shield? It shields one of us by ultimately harming all of us.
We’ve become such an individualistic, selfish society, only satisfied by attention. Like my picture, Re-tweet my post, come to my show, and take a picture with me there, so we can show everyone how amazing we are. Instant gratification is satisfying enough; we are so enthralled in ourselves, so intrigued by the lifestyles of the rich and famous. The people most of us will never be or get to meet. We have GOT to do better. I feel a revolution coming on. I’d like to channel the motivation of the Black Panther party, a little less radical, but just as passionate. We have to preserve and protect the human race against, the human race. I challenge you, whoever you are, to do something to positively benefit someone else. If you see something that’s wrong, say something, if you’re doing something that’s wrong, stop it. Figure out an action plan to promote positivity and stop some of this senseless, selfish behavior that’s killing us. Start an army of change. Don’t wait for a chain of command, every soldier that joins must also be the General. Start today.
That’s an order.
REASONS TO RIOT
February 1, 2012
I have come to the conclusion that I cannot call myself a writer unless I write everyday. So, here goes.
I’ve just finished the most life changing book I’ve read thus far. “Deals with the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot”, by Pearl Cleage. Ms. Cleage has quickly become my favorite writer and I don’t think any one will top her. The clarity she writes with is so amazing that I’ve been forced to do some serious self reflection as of late. It’s as if she’s talking to me and knows every fear I’ve had and have without my telling her, and without my permission.
Pearl Cleage is a freedom writer, a self defined Black Nationalist and feminist who has made me evaluate some rather dark things about myself and my past with this book. Ms. Cleage holds no punches, she says what she wants fearlessly, be it about politics, pop culture or the friends she holds dear to her heart. Her honesty can only be appreciated even when it hurts or criticizes your favorite singer. She pays homage to Angela Davis and many other sheroes of past and present. She doesn’t apologize for standing up for black women no matter how many people try to sit her down. I can only hope that I can have the kind of courage that she does. She shares stories about her life that show me that even she was not always confident, not always brave, and not always proud of herself. These confessions help make her more human and relatable.
The one lesson that I have learned from reading this book is that I think I’ve found my,
REASON TO RIOT
I will riot. I will picket. I will Occupy your eardrums until they bleed fairness and justice. I will be your voice. I will be your freedom fighter. I will throw chairs and fits until every man understands that my body is not a toy and my heart no playpen for bad intentions.I will riot until I understand these things.
I will kick, scream and yell until somebody listens and moves. Moves with their heart, moves with their bodies, moves with their minds. I will sit outside in the rain until the “B” word is no longer used as a term of endearment. I won’t wash my hair in protest until you understand that jokes are meant to be funny and rape is not so these two things should never be used in conjunction with one another.
Until the glass ceiling that hovers above the business world for women is shattered I will not budge. Until Halle, Taraji, Whoopi and many others are recognized for their complexity of character in bringing the struggle of the black woman to life, I will riot. I will knock on the door of every politician that believes they can tell a woman what choices she has when it comes to her own body and show them where to shove it.
I will march until every little brown girl knows her beauty lies between her ears rather than between her thighs. I will yell until our men stop fighting us and realize that while we will never claim to understand their struggle, we will always respect it and all we ask is for the same respect in return, in abundance.
We ask that you respect us when we don’t respect ourselves, we ask that you show us something different. Understand that before we were taught to love ourselves as queens,(if we were taught to love ourselves as queens) we were taught to love you as kings. Through sickness and in health, through beating and cheating, through jail and freedom, through life and death, through transgression and pain, through rape, and incest, through it ALL. We were taught to love thy man before thyself.
I will riot until I die. I will riot until you give me a reason not to scream. Until you tell me that you are calling me queen not just to show off for a social network but because you see the love of God in me, because you realize that WE are heirs to a throne— because QUEEN, is the only title you believe I’m worthy of receiving. Then and only then can you call me QUEEN.
I will riot for Harriet Tubman, and Angela Davis, and Pearl Cleage, and Maya Angelou, and Oprah Winfrey, and Michelle Obama, and Elaine Johnson-Adams, my mother, who I don’t fully believe has ever gotten to throw her life’s riot, but carries the pain and forgiveness of a thousand women. For every woman that’s ever told me what a man can and cannot do and how I need to just be okay with that. I riot for you. I riot for the double standard. I riot for the unequal rights. I riot because love has taken ill and lust has been substituting for far too long.
I riot for Kimmika and April and Candace and Shatia and Dana, and DeAnna, and Jessica and Sasha and Patti, and Brandi and Aden and Brittanie and Quinta and La and Taji and for every woman in my life that has ever called me friend. And for my sister, Candice, I riot for you. And I won’t stop.
January 31, 2012