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Hip-Hop Responds To War

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“We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace . . . ”
Michael Franti, “Bomb the World,”

You have probably have read about this . . .

A poll recently surfaced showing that African-Americans are more opposed to the U.S.-led war with Iraq than any other major ethnic group in the United States. According to the Gallup Organization, 66 percent of African-Americans are not supportive of the conflict. Organizers of the survey stress, however, that this should not be interpreted as the “entire black community being unpatriotic.”

Famed sci-fi/mystery author Walter Mosley is among those who opposes the war. He recently published a new non-fiction book called What Next: A Memoir Toward World Peace, in which he urges African-Americans to use their collective experience and history to move the country towards a diplomatic stance. “Why would [African-Americans] want to support a war against people, when [they] feel that number one, in [our] own country, there are issues facing African-Americans, which are more dire and which this war has nothing to do with,” he says. “And of course because there’s such a disproportionate number of people of color in the army, why would we want to send our own people over there to get killed?”

Meanwhile, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a statement last week urging support for the troops fighting in Iraq, despite issuing an earlier statement opposing the war. “More than most of American society, our military reflects the diversity of our nation,” writes NAACP Chairman of the Board Julian Bond. “We commend the bravery and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform, who represent all races and faiths.”

There also has been some reporting that African-Americans are not attending the anti-war rallies, which is not true. In fact, the urban organization Black Youth Vote! (BYV) will bring their annual get-together, Civic Leadership Conference: Our Voices, Our Issues, Our Politics!, to Washington, D.C, on April 2-5. Much of the discussion at the three-day gathering will be how the youth can voice their concerns about the war in Iraq. Youth activists, celebrities and elected officials from across the country will be among the speakers at the event. Lecturers scheduled to speak include hip-hop activist-journalist-author Kevin Powell and musical celebrities like soul singer Donnie reportedly will perform.

So this notion that the African-American community are not mobilizing to speak out against the war is simply not correct, nor, is it unpatriotic.

And hip-hoppers are speaking out, as well.
(Well, at the least the old-schoolers. How come the commericial artists are not speaking out . . . hmmmm?)

Spearhead‘s Michael Franti is against the war and has released a protest song called “Bomb The World” (Armageddon Version). The funky song combines dancehall grooves with grinding guitar riffs, as Franti ponders, “We can bomb the world into pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace.” “My intention within this song, and with all of my music, has been to inspire others to join in the belief that we should dedicate ourselves to ‘shocking and awing’ each other,” he writes in his letter to the world. “Not by our ability to kill, but by the depth of our love and commitment to justice.”

Meanwhile, Public Enemy frontman Chuck D was at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey last Tuesday, speaking to about 125 students in attendance, and offered his assessment on the war in Iraq. “This is a serious thing breaking out,” he said during his hour-long speech. “The president is playing video games with the war called Grand Theft Oil.”

And in a move that is not associated with the war in Iraq, but honorable in its cause, Wu-Tang Clan affiliates Cappadonna and Remedy, who is Jewish, will travel to Israel in May. The goal of the trek, which will take the pair to cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is to show that Judaism and hip-hop go together like matzo balls and chicken soup. “No one thinks that a Hebrew-speaking country has anything to do with hip-hop,” says Cappa, “but hip-hop is alive in Israel and we are going there to foster the new generations’ way of communicating.”


Peace in the Middle East.

Hip-Hop Is Not Dead . . . It’s Just In Another Spirit.

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About Trent Fitzgerald

  • Eric Olsen

    Very nice roundup Trent – thanks! There is starting to be a strong hip-hop community in Israel, I have read.

  • Eric Olsen

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