NCMR Panel: Make Music with Your Mouth, Kid: Hip-Hop Activism

This panel was certainly the most fun and the most thought-provoking of all the panels I’ve been to at the NCMR. It’s nearly impossible for me to summarize because each presenter brought a unique perspective and set of facts to lay on the audience. But, as the title of the panel suggests, all the presenters were united by hiphop, either as musicians, DJs, organizers or activists.

Malkia Cyril started off the session with some rhymes, and Brotha Los ended his presentation with a song of his own. Having the uniting element of music woven into the fabric of the session really loosened up the room but also kept our attention focused.

Hiphop is alternative media and an important form of communication. And hiphop is affected and repressed by media consolidation, with Clear Channel growing at the expense of independently owned black stations, and then dominating the selection of ultra-commercialized artists who get heard.

Yet the larger question of the panel really was organizing and activism, with hiphop more as a means rather than the subject itself. Although it was all good, Rosa Clemente, a radio host at WBAI in New York, was a highlight. She reminded all of us that the issue of justice is framed by white supremacy, which cannot be denied and must addressed.

Clemente recalled that the history of independent media in the US really starts with black people, with Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells. And nobody remembers that Juan Gonzalez, of Democracy Now, was a Young Lord, working on the group’s newspaper in the 1960s.

She concluded that if progressives are no longer thinking about Katrina, but worrying about 2008 and whether or not we can get Hillary elected, then “we don’t have an analysis.”

To me, this session was about youth and organizing and having a far more inclusive media environment where talk of race and gender isn’t limited to discussing the topic of diversity, but part of all the media reform and justice conversations.

It’s a very important and necessary point, and still not obvious in the media reform movement. I do think Free Press has made observable effort to be more inclusive with the NCMR — there has been much improvement since the 1st conference in 2003. But there’s far to go, and the conversation within the movement has really only begun. And, really, I don’t think the mainstream white media reformers in Memphis right now have these issues in their consciousness.

I recommend listening to this panel when it gets posted to the Free Press schedule page. They’ve been pretty fast getting the audio online, so we can probably expect to see it tomorrow.

Technorati Tag:



, ,




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *