A Movement of Youth: The Leaders of The Now & Future
"Growing up as a teen/ there's a lot i've seen/ between people with red beams and fighting over ya team," I wrote these lines at 15 years old, I was a student at East High School in the 10th grade. This was my reality, just how white supremacy planned it, generations prior. Every reality is based on one's perception, in the 10th grade I had double-vision-perception. Even though I grew up seeing/living/being around some terrible things, I still saw myself as greater than my environment. No, I didn't think I was better than anyone else (except in rapping, I'll kill you niggas in that), but, my youth wouldn't allow me to not dream my way out of disparity.
In the spirit of "keeping it real", dreaming beyond your current conditions comes from a place of privilege. Having the mental space to dream and challenge the narrative given is a "middle-class sensibility." They (The system of white supremacy and capitalism) don't even want straight A students at your nearest private school to dream and think outside the box (be liberal), so why in the hell would they want some urban(nigger) kid from North Memphis to challenge the status quo? You are not suppose to think differently, you are supposed to take what was given to you, even if it was nothing, and enjoy it. Well, even if you don't enjoy, just shut the fuck up about it. We (The system of White Supremacy and Capitalism) don't want to hear about your "excuses" for being poor and undereducated. If you weren't so lazy, then this wouldn't be happening to you.
*Que middle finger*
I had always had a dream, though that dream may have changed in my very early years, around 3rd grade, it stuck. I wanted to be a rapper. And not just some dude that says they rap and lives at home with his mom until he's 40, like a successful rapper. Even though everyone around me grew up listening to rap music, seeing black people become successful from their talents, and take over a global cultural society, not many people thought that "I" could do it. Again, my youth wouldn't allow my mind to be taken over by doubters and naysayers.
My youth, my youth, my youth is on fire! I don't need no water let that mutha fucka BURN!
Fast-forward to 2015, I am 22 years old, I'm a business owner, I'm happily married with 2 kids, and most important I am making my 3rd grade self proud, because I AM A RAPPER. My Rapper = Activist, Educator, Lecturer, City Planner, Mentor, Wordsmith, Politician, Husband, and Thinker. Take that 3rd grade self, I bet you didn't imagine all this.
On Wednesday, June 17th I made my way to The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Oxford, Mississippi to deliver a lecture/Workshop titled: "Movement Soundtracks: Hip-Hop Storytelling and Social Empowerment, for their Summer Youth Institute. This is a topic that I spent my life learning. Hip-Hop storytelling is what saved my life, I have to spread the awareness of how great Hip-Hop can be.
On June 17th, I walk into the Triplett Alumni Center on the University of Mississippi campus. I was nervous, not because I had never spoken in front of people before, but because teenagers can be RUTHLESS. I don't mean they will burn down your nearest CVS, I mean they will ask the real hard hitting questions that will keep you on your toes. Also, they are fucking judgmental. I look around the room and I notice something that really made my blood boil. Sitting in the exact same room that the workshop is going to take place, is a confederate flag, also known as the state flag of Mississippi.
So, after I got over seeing this symbol of racism in the same room that we are supposed to be having racial conciliation, we got to the nitty gritty. Those same teens that had me nervous, made me realize and remember how bright and on point the youth is. This group of students really touched me in a way that I will never forget. We talked about how backs are viewed in the media. We talked about Hip-Hop was started as a response to social and economic environments. We talked about the degradation of women in Hip-Hop, and the media at large. We talked, a long time. It was powerful.
On Saturday, June 27th I made my way back to The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation in Oxford, Mississippi to deliver a lecture/Workshop titled: "Change the World Around You: Community Engagement Through Art & Technology." for their Summer Youth Institute.
This time I was talking to different group of teens, this group was called SYI 2.0. This was their second time being to the Summer Youth Institute, now they are a few years older and are wiser. This group is ready to actually take on the world with just a little guidance. We talked about ways that they can use their voices now, and never wait for an "achievement" to start doing something. In this generation we have social media, planes that can fly 700 miles per hour and carry 300 people at a time, there is no reason for us not to be connected to the world. We are in a global society, and to thrive within a global society we have to attack the problems that prevent us from being connected. We have to use our art to speak to issues like homophobia, sexism, racism, rape, inequality, justice, etc. Art can and will change the world, it has for generations. The people are afraid to speak up, are forgotten.
I'll let the young soldiers tell you what they got from this all.
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We are the youth, we are the future, we are the now!