Police brutality is an issue rarely raised in Hip Hop. After Sean Bell was killed in a now infamous story there was more unrest than usual. Regardless, Papoose making a song, 50 shots, is not enough of a reflection of how the Hip Hop community treated that incident. It seems that 50 cents and Cameron exchanged more offensive lyrics as a result of their new beef than the entire roster of rap artists did on Sean Bell’s massacre. Does that mean that Hip Hop does not care about how the police mistreat our community?
It would seem that way at first. Yet, there is another side to Hip Hop. There are people who do not get into the MTV rotation and don’t constantly have 97 play their songs. Those are the artists who represent our world and focus more on the real issues rather than on ballin’ or getting rich or dying trying. The sad truth is that the less educated consumer is more likely to go to a club and listen to hot beats and rap along about hot booty, drugs and dollar bills. Most have gotten too comfortable with the concept of police violating human rights. It is more than rare to hear someone but a lonesome college professor talk about the things which truly matter. In a cartoon Boondocks, there is an episode about Martin Luther King coming back to life in the world of today. Becoming quickly disenchanted with the black community of today, he wonders where we all went wrong. As an extra bonus he gets declared un-American for his comments.
Stepping away from the world of cartoons and televised sarcasm, we dive into the real world of constant inequality. Mr. King and Malcolm X did not waste their efforts. The accomplishments of those two, as well as many others, have certainly changed the world. The problem is that people have become too comfortable at this point. Extreme cases of racism and brutality from the police have become rather rare. Yet, they do exist. The fight MUST continue.
Representing our people (not black or white, but the oppressed) are not the politicians. The country is struggling under the burden of 2 wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, lack of proper education, inadequate medical care and a slew of other major issues. Those are the actions of our politicians, not the common folk. So, who will get our voice heard? Once again, Hip Hop representing for us all. The Free Your Hood Coalition put on a show with several conscious artists performing with the goal of bringing more attention to these issues.
The Free Your Hood Coalition has been around since 2004. It was formed as a result of isolated incidents but focuses on the bigger picture of police brutality and prison capitalization. Working with a number of other similar movements it has reached thousands but is looking for more support from similar-minded individuals. You can read more about it at myspace.com/ Free_your_hood_coalition or e-mail Autumn at firstname.lastname@example.org. The issues facing the African-American community are not limited to police brutality and jailing the troubled. There are plenty more. This particular movement was built on these 2 concerns, but all involved in it actively participate in other problems on daily basis.
Talking about various challenges facing the oppressed, it would only seem logical to mention a few others.
Washington Post runs a “Being a Black Man” series. Always a good read, it also mentions on the most real dilemmas: joblessness in the black community. While 70 percent of all white men are working, only 60 percent of black men, and 49 percent of those between the ages 18 and 24, can say the same.
When it comes to jails, the official stats are as follows: from 2004 to 2005 prison population saw a 3% increase. 1 out of every 136 citizens of this country is behind bars. 62% of all people jailed are not even convicted of anything. That last statistic is absolutely mind-boggling. Whether it is because most people jailed can not afford a decent defense attorney or even a smallest bail, the fact is absolutely catastrophic.
In California they are transferring people to other states’ jails or even letting random people out early, as there is not enough room. When it comes to the court system, it is almost silly to remind that if a person sued has the sufficient funds, they are much more likely to avoid jail altogether or drastically reduce their sentence. Just look at O.J. While committing a horrible crime, he also served this country’s legal institution with a slap, avoiding jail due to technicalities and then loosing the civil case.
Going back to police profiling, the numbers for New York are as follows: in 2006 1/2 million people were stopped and searched by the police. Out of them, 55% were blacks and 30% Hispanics. Does that fit into anyone’s mind at all?!
The facts continue and the Free Your Hood Coalition continues its work.
At their recent show at Joe’s Pub, they had performances by M1 from Dead Prez, Treachfrom Naughty By Nature, A Alikes, Immortal Technique, Hasan Salaam, Alkebulan and others. The messages focused on police brutality and the NYPD treated it as such. Before the show there were police vans lined up in front of the club. The club management received a firm warning not to let too many people in there. Still, the show was a peaceful act, bringing important issues to light. M1 talked about Sacrifice in love not blood. Treach spoke of not profiling the police and being able to understand that there are positive members there as well. Just so he is not misunderstood, he added: “Don’t misunderstand me. You know how I do. I’m Trigger Treach bitch.” It was refreshing to hear those messages. from
After the show, M1 sat down with WNT to talk about the issues at hand, his views and the overall movement.