Hip Hop Saves Lives...Kinda.
These past few months I have had the privilege to work with a lot of great students, grades K-12. The majority were from underprivileged communities. It is funny how you think because you are in college that you will automatically come into these kids lives, give them a great speech and change their lives forever just like in all of those movies.. You know like (Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, The Substitute etc.) instead the complete opposite happened.
I participated in a Teen Summit for CLA Ambassadors, and unfortunately was the only ambassador present. I along with many other groups like the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, and help put on a teen summit which explored the thoughts of teenagers ages 12-19. It was a powerful experience. Despite the unequal funding of the educational system, these kids were brilliant. They were reading Voltaire in their free time and engaged in political debates and discussions. They quoted theories from W.E.B Du Bois. Which is surprising since in my college American History class no one knew who he was. I was more than proud. I was inspired. My task was to teach them about something I love. HIP HOP!!!
I know what you are thinking. What is so important and brilliant about hip hop??? Well like I taught my students hip hop was the result of poor government regulation and a direct result of the effects of Reagan-nomics. It is one of the first forms of American based music that was created by a variety of ethnic backgrounds and it became the voice of marginalized people. Hip Hop culture gave many youths a peaceful escape from the desparities of life in the late seventies early eighties and even to this day.
I learned a lot from my former professor Alexs Pate, who teaches The Poetry of Rap class. He was the acclaimed author of Amistad and he has given me a greater respect for music saturated in meaning. Many of those students informed me that they often are disappointed with the direction that hip hop is taking, so they listen to "Old School" music like Tupac LOL and the Roots. I think there will be hope for my future generations yet.