Yesterday, before the "10" Black Men gathering, I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker at the "It Takes a Commuity for this Community Affair" community forum sponsored by the Durham County Women's Commision. The audience was made up of some very bright young folks from North Carolina Central University and Hillside High School.
I was there to to kick off my Books or Bullets Black History month campaign with a lecture on Hip Hop's fall from the intellectualism of the late 80's-early 90's.
Hip Hop topics usually go over real big with the younger crowd, especially when it comes to the question and answer period where some young B-Boy hot shot usually shoots the speaker down by bringing out Hip Hop historical points that you don't find out by watching some Ivy Leage, PH.D havin' dude tryin' to hawk his latest book on C-Span's Book Notes...
But it was during the question and answer period that I discovered young Black America's dirty little secret...
They ain't no darn "Hip Hop Generation..."
I heard a Civil Rights person say that the folks in the 60's never referred to what they were doing as a "Civil Rights Movement." That was just a name that the white News directors GAVE them. This sentiment was echoed last week when Dr. Howard Fuller, a noted Durham NC activist of tHE 60's and 70's who founded Malcolm X University and later went on to become the superintendent of the Milwaukee school district. Dr. Fuller said that although the activists in Durham were referred to as "civil rights activists" they were really Black Power activists.
This is not much different than what has happened to young Black America over the last 20 years. Hip Hop started in the 70's, got put on record in very late 79 into 1980 and began to become commercialized around 87 with the crossover popularity of Run DMC and the Beastie Boys. So, what the media call the Hip Hop generation can be anyone who brought a Hip hop record/CD from 1980 through the present.
Only when labeling Black folks would they put a 12 year old child and a 45 year old man in the same category. So when the media use "Hip Hop" they are not referring to an age range but a mentality. A mentality that is more rooted in BET than in political and social events. The term "Hip Hop Generation" is not rooted in reality but just a marketing term that mega corporations use to sell CD's and over priced T-Shirts and "Hip Hop intellectuals" use to sell books and get speaking engagements.
This generation is not the brain dead group of ring tone buyin' Hip Hoppers that the media would have you to believe. This generation is alot brighter than many of us realize but because we don't expect better, we don't get better...
So, I learned alot yesterday from the young folks. For too long we have let the media define us. It's time that we define ourselves.