Friday, August 7, 2009

Rise up Hip Hop Nation - Wise up: From Deconstructing Social Ills to Building Real Solutions…REDUX...It’s Time to Stand Up…or Shut Up!

Peace and blessings to humanity. Sometimes you have to look back to move forward.

This first essay I penned under Rise up Hip Hop Nation was published in 2002: Rise up Hip Hop Nation - Wise up: From Deconstructing Social Ills to Building Real Solutions The basic premise of the essay was summed up in this quotation: “…it is now time to move beyond deconstructing and start building.” In that essay, I gave a list of specific actions different entities in hip hop could do to build solutions in our communities. In most subsequent essays, the goal was the same: build solutions. We already know the problems…and causes. We need plans of action.

One essay I gave a specific list that all individuals could utilize to make a difference ( I really believe if we all did just one or two of the things on the list, we would see much of the change we want to see in our communities despite entrenched institutional power structures.

The reason I went back to this initial essay about solution building is because the more I analyze social network sites like Facebook, read numerous internet sites and blogs, and watch the propaganda of cable news, the more concerned I get with what I have heard Cornel West call the paralysis of analysis. I see a serious time and opportunity to rise up and make change slipping away because we are being distracted by chatter. Chill Rob G was right: Everybody’s a critic:

"The Power" by Chill Rob G

I’ve got the power”. No truer words have ever been spoken or been less believed.

As I have written about in numerous essays, we do have the power, but we have not seized it. Instead, I find myself and most drawn into debates that are very critical of everything and everybody instead of threads that are solution oriented and claim personal ownership for change. To illustrate here are a few examples:

1. Criticisms across the board of President Obama. Obama is a puppet (left lean) or Obama is a socialist (right lean).

2. Unfounded criticisms of a hip hop organization and its conference– accusing it of being all talk and no action when actual evidence shows it has been heavily involved in many community efforts (EX. The weekend of the conference, the organization: organized a media response and protest to a local police brutality incident, supported a hip hop affiliates run for mayor, supported local community centers and art venues, and took part in annual African American cultural festival.)

3. Substantiated criticisms of media’s defining of reality, not reflection of it, but few solutions offered on how to challenge this.

4. Criticisms of the status quo but no revelations on how they are personally challenging the status quo.

One specific debate on Facebook concerned Obama’s NAACP speech where many progressives felt he “called the black community out” too harshly without addressing the root cause of black problems, namely systemic racism and white supremacy. In this debate, criticisms became schizophrenic because many who “call out” BET, and choices mainstream artists make because of the real effects it has on community youth perceptions, were very critical of Obama for voicing the exact same concerns.

This dialogue affirmed how ideology shapes how we receive messages. Most cued into only the part of his speech where he challenged African Americans to a higher moral standard. But when a thorough analysis of his speech is done, Obama made a number of other points, including:

1. Obama started off by explaining the NAACP charter is to eliminate prejudice in all its forms...and gave a few examples...Muslim hate, gay/lesbian discrimination, black higher unemployment and less pay.

2. He affirmed people based movements citing DuBois and the Niagara movement, freedom riders, SNCC and their acts of civil disobedience, MIA organizers and community members that stayed off busses, and organizers in Mississippi Freedom Party. .As a African American studies professor, this showed me he has some understanding of AFAM history and what REALLY brings change.

3. Obama also used code language like Lowery did at inauguration by closing with parts of the Black National anthem, which was not missed by the crowd there who gave him an ovation...but missed by those that are caught up in their idea of what Obama should be.

4. The part about personal responsibility was nothing anyone would disagree with specifically...this is the same thing we have been dealing with in hip hop...blaming corporate america (BET/Viacom)...or hold Lil Wayne accountable for having little girls on stage at the BET awards while singing “F*ck girls all over the world”, the truth is it is corporate america's fault, but as long as there is a Lil Wayne that will play the role, corporate america will exploit because they do NOT CARE ABOUT US...we MUST care about is the ONLY we will progress...they will profit from our willingness to be in the new millennium minstrel BAMBOOZLED.

5. But most importantly, Obama said government can make policy but it is THE PEOPLE that must make DEMANDS and hold government accountable. In other words, Obama (and the system many believe he represents) is NOT our problem...our problem is we have not realized his credit...he does....

We need to see pass the top down approach is in the best interest of the people...ever.
I teach about white supremacy, institutional racism, and structural oppression...but the message I give that I think is most important is this:


Frederick Douglass said it BEST:

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

So, I write this blog to challenge the critics. We know the problems, and we know the causes. But do you know what you will do to bring the change you want to see? If you can answer that, you are a part of the solution. If you can’t, you are part of the problem and it is time to own that. “Don’t talk about it, be about it.”

Previous Blogs/Related Topics:

Rise up Hip Hop Nation: What will be the Price for peace

Rise up Hip Hop Nation - Wise up, Part III: Realizing Our Righteous Power

“Where the Ball is, the Game is”

The Fire This Time

Talking Politics: Hip Hop, the Election, and Service

WARGAMES - The Fall of Empire

"Privatizing Profits, Socializing Losses"

The Fire this Time...or Risk Irrelevance

Rise up Hip Hop Nation, Wise Up: The Choice is Yours


Channel Live said...

Tina said...

thanks for sharing the video link...on point!

hiphoppa13 said...

who out there wuz talkn sh*t on the conference...

Quest said...

Hi there,

It's really refreshing to read this, stumbled upon your site aaall the way from Beirut. I also study pop-culture academically, and like you, I do agree that much is spent on chatter and criticism, less on practical hands-on solution.

I look forward to reading more of your writing,


Tina said...

To hiphoppa13: thanks for taking the time to check out the new essays :-) to answer your question....don't know the "people" but was some FB chatter...check your email for transcript...peace.

Tina said...

Q - peace to you in Beirut and glad you stumbled upon my site :-) I am glad to hear of your interests in similar work and would definitely like to continue building real solutions to the issues we study. I appreciate the support and interest and please keep in touch!

Brittanee said...

Truly enjoy reading your perspective.. as always.. Even in class, I found it so easy to listen and relate.. I agree fully with your opinion and full breakdown of Obama. I think the black community has an unfortunate "hating: mentality - its as if they waiting for the brother not to say enough as they feel he should.. He has made it clear (especially in his opinion about the Harvard professor incident) that he is fully aware of racism and all the ugly that stems from it (i.e. racial profiling). The problem and the causes have been realized but what good is it to only harp and dwell on past occurrences instead of changing the dialogue to declarative sentences about how to bring about change.. I am all about educating the ignorant and misguided to aid them in understanding the struggle.. but why continue to settle on the struggle and not a solution. It is disheartening when the concern is criticism and judgment when that energy ought to be focused on the betterment and advancement of Black people. I also completely agree about Lil Wayne - as long as their is facet for him to be productive and profitable why would he stop creating and perpetuating junk? I personally do not care for him, but I can not knock his hustle! The main ones hating on Obama be the same ones probably bumping Lil Wayne, because I think there is a lack of education on the pertinent issues. Not to mention the fact, that people are only gunna see what they choose to see negative in others and never look at themselves... I just think as a Black people we need to become educated before forming such outraged opinions and drawing outlandish conclusions - and more importantly, stop falling for the hype. We have immense potential and need to utilize in an uplifting fashion of ourselves and others not making commercial bullshit just to please and be accepted into mainstream.. white folks buy into most of the stuff black folks come up with, if we came up with positivity and put some flava on it that only we can.. they'd buy into that too, guaranteed!
AFAM and Hi HOP course at UCI

Tina said...

Hey Brittanee -

I don't know if you will see this comment because it has been so long, but I just wanted to thank you for keeping up with me and my blog and for the thoughtful comment! I am doing well at LASC but I miss my hip hop class at UCI...i meant to reply a LONG time the semester started and you know how hectic it i have been on a hiatus from my blog... i hope to get back to it more consistently again.
hope you've been's great hearing from you :-)

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