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Response to Akili’s Letter

November 11, 2006


Dear Jaan Laaman/4strugglemag:

At a time when political prisoners are dying of old age and black leadership is increasingly moving away from the black community or working within the box of our oppressor, Akili’s letter, although formulated around Hip-hop and the Hip-hop generation is basically asking for a much needed medium in which Political Prisoner’s and Prisoners of conscious can dialogue A medium where the torch could successfully passed on to a younger generation, who shares the same fervent desire for freedom of the people.

Although Hip-hop has a strong influence over black youth, and has the potential to be a valuable medium in which to cultivate conscious thought, at the present moment, it’s not a garden from which blacks can harvest leaders. Therefore, I believe the juxtaposition of the roles of Hip-hop and the Hip-hop generation will be ineffectual. As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to find a way to use Hip-hop, since it’s one of many viable tools we can use in our struggle against oppression, as well as to educate not just the Hip-hop generation, but also the “Me Generation”. Therefore, the questions which ought to be asked are how can we get Hip-hop to influence conscious thought, and which role should the Hip-hop Generation be charged.

Starting with the latter, I suggest that Prisoners of Conscious be living examples of what we will command of the Hip-hop Generation. This means we will no longer stand on a soap box and preach the need for education and unity. Instead, we will educate and facilitate unity of will, and serve as ambassadors of the struggle. But before this is done, I believe Prisoners of Conscious should openly apologize to our community and Political Prisoners for whatever destruction we’ve caused before becoming conscious. Without this apology, we leave a wound we’ve inflicted to go without treatment. Hence, our walkin the path of righteousness will not be accepted as sincere since we’ve failed to acknowledge our short comings, and our followers will be unable to perceive us as being able to identify the needs of the community.

The Hip-hop and Me Generation ought to be charged with the responsibility of being self-reliant and self-determined through programs designed and developed by Prisoners of Conscious. Such programs should be based on economic and political growth within the community.

To effectuate conscious thought throughout the Hip-hop and Me Generation, Prisoners of Conscious and Political Prisoners need to start discourse with Conscious Rappers, who in turn could push for opinionated political columns to be added to Hip-hop magazines such as Vibe, Source and XXL. These columns will expose the Hip-hop and Me Generation to the hidden nature of politics, and make them aware of the social conditions that plague our communities. These columns, I believe, will also produce more dialogue amongst aspiring rappers, and as a result would produce more conscious rap without Hip-hop losing its flavor.

Furthermore, the Hip-hop and Me Generation, as loyal as it has been to Hip-hop, have to be shown the reality of their relationship with Hip-hop. This will cultivate ground so positive change can take place. For example, Rappers are immortalized as if they are demigods, without sin, and are creatures who could do no wrong. Therefore, the Hip-hop and Me Generation ought to recognize that the people they hear and see in music videos are entertainers, and not the voice of the Hip-hop community. For the Hip-hop and Me Generation are the voice of the Hip-hop community.

Akili’s suggestion was on the mark, since politically conscious prisoners like myself find it essential to dialogue with Political Prisoners before picking up the torch.

Lasyah M. Palmer

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