Bakari Kitwana

After many years of hip-hop as a nation we should have the sophistication to accept that their are distinctions between the corporate manifestation of hip-hop, sold as a commodity and package with sensational race, sex and violent imagery, and the hip-hop culture that kids are living everyday at a local level, which often doesn’t dabble in that terrain.

I agree that all kids of all colors love hip-hop. My point in writing the book was to raise questions about the ways the hip-hop generation and the millennium generation, both who have lived their entire lives in post-segregation America, are processing race in radically different ways than any generation of Americans. I think they have a lot to tell us as a country about ways of addressing race matters.

My hope is to get young people to think about ways that they can translate hip-hop’s great cultural movement into political power that can change the conditions for America’s young, so that young people upon graduating from high school who don’t have economic means to go to college can realize other options beyond joining the military and fighting in wars that enrich corporations like Halliburton which should feel guilty about profiteering off of a war that is being fought on the backs of those locked out of America’s mainstream economy.

Few places in American culture have made as effective a case for entrepreneurship than hip-hop. Hip-hop tells young people that our society is offering very limited options for youth. And that while society points to a radical decline in living wage jobs for youth and meaningful and affordable education, hip-hop is offering an alternative legitimate economy that is giving youth hope.

I am trying to get folks outside the hip-hop culture to understand why, despite the negatives, young people find hope and refuge in hip-hop. I’m hoping that young people immersed in the culture will work harder to capitalize on the possibilities for great social change that hip-hop represents as a national unified cultural youth movement.

Hip-hop is contributing to American society’s misogyny and racism, hyper-sexuality anti-Black representations. Hip-Hop isn’t setting the standard for misogyny. No one reduces the presidency to misogyny, although we’ve had misogynistic presidents. No one reduces our government to being solely homophobic, although we have a government with a don’t ask, don’t tell policy for gays and lesbians in the military.

Legions of young hip-hop fans are as against this as hip-hop’s most fierce critics. There is a huge underground movement within hip-hop circles that against these representation. You can hear this message on tons of lyrics and rap songs produced by independent emcees. But they are fighting against a well-oiled and well-financed machine.