Aunt Lula Mae is at the grocery store picking up ingredients for the egg custard that no one has the heart to tell her is trash. And, Grandma Geraldine is at the house practicing how she's going to walk down the aisle Sunday morning in her mammoth sized hat, ready to stunt on the other missionaries. Your weeks-long gameplan to secure all the eggs over your big cousins.Behold. Resurrection Sunday is upon us.Photo: GiphyHere's a play-by-play of the events on and before Easter Sunday that you'll never forget as a child.1. The Easter Suits and Dresses Photo: PollyCreased pants. Itchy crinoline. White lace gloves. Toe pinching shoes. Multicolored bow ties. You were dressed for all of the pageantries that come with Easter Sunday. The more pastels the better. This is the freshest day of the year and is truly a fashion show. The moment you walk in the door, it's runway time. All eyes are on how well you're dressed. 2. Getting Your Hair Laid the Night BeforePhoto: GiphyThe boys spent Saturday afternoon in line at the crowded barbershop and the girls awaited their fate at the salon. For the moms who took great pleasure in styling their girls' hair, the kitchen became a beauty oasis. Big bows and rollers galore. When she turned on the stove top, you know what's up. Her weapon of choice came from hiding. The hot comb had the entire house (and your head) smelled like charcoal and blue magic grease. 3. Waking up early AF for Sunrise servicePhoto: GiphyYou stayed up all night doing the prep work for Easter. Forget comfort because the rollers were painful between your head and the pillow. And, the anticipation of wondering what kind of basket awaits you in the living room kept you awake. You quietly wept as the 5:00 a.m. alarm went off. Sunrise Service at churches can begin as early as 6:30 a.m. 4. The LIT Sunrise breakfastPhoto: Key and PeeleHe will give you beauty for ashes. Because you had to get up at the same time as He rose, the church provided the best breakfast immediately following the early morning service. Because the food is so good, you aren't as upset that you're dressed like an Easter basket. But the gag is..if your parents were really into the word, you'd likely stay for the regular service which could mean another two to three hours of church.5. The overflowPhoto: GiphyEaster, Mother's Day, and Christmas Eve are peak times for church attendance. These sacred occasions are reserved for the members you forgot were members. Lowkey everyone is watching everyone wondering where folk have been the last 49 Sundays. Your head pops up every few minutes to see the new and old faces. Pastor notices too because somehow the irregular attendee becomes a part of the sermon. That being said, you better arrive at least 15 minutes prior to service as overcrowding is imminent and the parking attendants will make you park so far away from the church that you'll be sweating by the time you get inside.6. The Easter SpeechPhoto: AnnieYour time to shine. The moment you've been preparing for. Your Sunday School teacher let you draw, at random, which speech would be yours. You prayed to select one that wasn't too long or short enough for the little kids. You've gone over the words, line by line, and sure that you know the speech by heart. When they call your name, you walk to the mic nervous or even overconfident AF. In the back of your mind lingers the terror of missing a word which meant your memorization of the next line was shot to hell. Then again, you're in competition with your peers to see who would best perform. And at your horror, your mom was staring a hole in you, silently mouthing the words to you from the third pew. Even if your nerves get the best of you, it doesn't matter because the congregation thinks you're cute and will clap with the appropriate "aww" and "bless your heart." When it's over, you take the great exhale of your life. It's over..until next year.7. The picturesPhoto: Paid in FullHere's the drill: a solo pic, a pic with you and the basket, a pic with your brothers and sisters, another pic with your cousins, then the family photo. You better hold the same smile in them all or else it would prolong the additional festivities. Better stay clean or else. Your parents spent good money to ensure your impeccable fashion. No time for spills or smudges, bih. The whites of whites better remain pristine for the family photos. You can't rock all white if your white looking dingy. That's law. 8. The FeastPhoto: New GirlThe ham went in the night before. All of the cakes are iced. The biscuits are baked to perfection. Grams threw down even more than the year before. Easter is exhausting AF and you're ready to throw deal. Honestly, truly, you're replenishing your body for the main event.9. The HuntPhoto: MartinIt's on. The night before, you helped your parents decorate the eggs in funky colors. Now it's time to find them. While the adults are outside doing the hiding, you peek out the window making notes for your strategy. If egg dying wasn't your thing, you could count on the plastic eggs with candy or dollar bills stuffed inside. This is not a game. You're bobbing and weaving between all of your siblings and cousins hoping to collect the most eggs in your basket. Nothing will stand in your way. Back in the house, you're peeling the eggs as careful as possible, hoping not to leave behind any shell. Your day is practically ruined when you bite into it and feel a crunch. Once you become a teenager your Easter baskets turn into gift cards. You're just there for the money and the food.When it's all said and done, you're eating candy and eggs until the sun goes down. Photo: The Nutty ProfessorYou're tired as hell from the festivities, but it's another year of sweet goodness in your childhood memory bank. To this day, you probably find yourself keeping to the same traditions in your...
This past Thursday, a national creative agency aimed to bring awareness to social justice issues in pop culture announced that they will be awarding a $100,000 fellowship for artists who were once incarcerated.The disparity between the number of blacks and the number of whites who are incarcerated have been well documented and even those who are fortunate enough to see a release date face an unfair hiring bias because of their criminal records. Which is why the Soze Academy's new fellowship is both ideal and practical. In an interview with Mic, the Brooklyn-based agency revealed that "The Right of Return USA Fellowship" is a part of their Returning Citizens Project that has the vision of establishing a network of painters, sculptors, filmmakers and performers that specifically come from the prison system. The fellowship will award five artists with a grant of $20,000 each for projects addressing reform of the criminal justice system. They believe this could be the first initiative of its kind in the U.S. "Artists have always been able to tap into something that is unique and vibrant," Michael Skolnik, co-founder of the Soze Agency, told Mic. "Imagine what artists who have experienced incarceration have to share with the rest of the world."The Sentencing Project reported in 2015 that nearly 60 percent of previously incarcerated individuals were unemployed a year after release, forcing them to resort to breaking more laws and landing right back in prison. Strides towards prison reform were being made during the Obama era but in light of the new administration and their agenda of investing in private prisons, the Soze Academy found that it was important now more than ever to help keep our men home. A fellowship like the Soze Academy is proposing to not only take previously incarcerated inmates off the streets but it shows that the only disconnect between a more fruitful life after prison is the opportunity to live one. "We firmly believe that formerly incarcerated individuals not only have a right to fully return to society but can offer innovative solutions to one of the most pressing issues of our time," Philadelphia-based artists Russell Craig and Jesse Krimes, two of the fellowship's inaugural recipients, said in a joint statement. The Open Philanthropy Foundation is funding the fellowship, which handed the $216,500 grant to Soze Academy this past December. Recipients of the fellowship will be required to work alongside with nonprofits that focus on criminal justice system. Interested and eligible individuals have until April 21 to apply for the remaining three...
Whether it's Kim Kardashian and the media trying to rebrand something that's been ours as a "new trend," or Iggy Azalea rapping in her perception of what the "black" dialect is, or even Zoe Saldana refusing to step aside to allow a more appropriate casting of Nina Simone, I'm over micro, macro or even intra-cultural appropriation. You can get DRAGGED every time, am I right, Black Twitter? Now, for those unfamiliar, to "drag" something or someone is to call said thing or person out on completely inappropriate behavior, sometimes in a sarcastic manner or sometimes with pure fury. I tend to lean toward the former, but for what I'm about to share with you, the fury has been evoked. Source: The Fashion Tag A group of fitness instructors who misrepresent themselves as "fly," decided to take Beyoncé's "Formation" and turn it into a marketing tool for themselves. Now, while I personally haven't seen Bey's song or video as some epic black power movement artistic vision, many have interpreted her work as an unabashed presentation of unapologetic blackness and a calling out of disproportionate police brutality against black people. Because this is the overwhelming opinion of the majority in the black community, this piece of music should have been left alone, but NO – we can never have nice things! Our culture must always be stolen, diluted and made more palatable (and thereafter rendered horribly uncool) for the masses of white folks who would continue to profit from our pain. They've even entitled the video "Swerve," stealing yet another slang term created by the black community to lend a sense of relevance to their stiff and offbeat choreography. Well, famous or not, I say we drag them! "To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time." - James Baldwin No one is exempt from the power of black fury. We are staunchly reminded of our cultural relevance (and our lack of ownership), our mortality (and how it's culturally and legally dismissed) and how both are capitalized on without our inclusion or permission. But we deserve nice things, y'all! Our artistic, intellectual, and especially industrial contributions to this country are immeasurable. We will never have our house on a hill if we continue to allow others to believe that they can steal the bricks anytime they damn well please. Black Twitter, I leave you to it. As the Power Rangers often said, "It's morphin' time!" DRAG THEM. Photo: Tumblr What do you think of the video? What are other instances of cultural appropriation that have disturbed you? Leave your comments below! READ NEXT: Listen to these 7 podcasts driven by black...
Today, on November 22, two of our most beloved black American poets, Jasmine Mans and Rudy Francisco, perform their last show in London, England produced by poet and curator LionHeart. Performing at Universities in both London and Birmingham, these two poets have begun bridging the gap between our most beloved US and UK poets.
You might remember Jasmine Mans from her poem “Footnotes for Kanye,” released last year, where Mans makes both dynamic and controversial remarks on Kanye West using many of his own lyrics.
“Can you hear all the black kids calling your name
wondering why the boy who rapped
about his momma getting arrested for the sit-ins
why he traded in his Nat Turner for Ralph Lauren.”
We know and love Rudy Francisco as one of the most beloved storytellers of our time for his ability to be transparent in language and masculinity.
is a wet fish
that most men
are just trying
to hold onto”
Keep up with Rudy on social media at @RudyFrancisco and check out his poem “Adrenaline Rush” below.
Heralded as one of the most passionate poetry performers of his generation, LionHeart is a London-based spoken word artist. Co-founder of topical debate night Subjectivity UK, LionHeart is also the producer and curator of the Blck Folk Tour, featuring Jasmine Mans and Rudy Francisco, as well the Extended Play Tour featuring Savon Bartley.
"Everyone has a voice, but not everyone is aware they are regurgitating a puppeteered perception."
To find out more about LionHeart, follow him on social media @LionHeartfelt and check out his poem "Pretty Hurts" below.
Known for his visual content and lyrical ability, Savon Bartley is a black American poet who will be performing the last show of his three-week-long UK Tour, Extended Play, tonight alongside Jasmine Mans and Rudy Francisco at Stereo 92.
“Bullets are a joke
all the black boys are laughing
so hard they can't breathe”
Follow Savon on social media @SavonBartley and check out his poem "PB&J" below.
Together Jasmine Mans and Rudy Francisco have initiated the Blck Folk Tour. With the support of Savon Bartley, Assumpta, Just Jumi, and Jolade, these poets have performed three sold out UK performances.
This tour is to bring to light the black poet’s constant journey to the story and true identity. They showcase the journey of being black poets and all of its beauties and burdens. They understand their blackness as a cherished part of their identity and poetry. They seek to be forthright in their identity at a time when some groups tell us to be ashamed.
The black narrative is something often distorted in the media and in literature, so these poets take their jobs in seriousness and great honor. In 50 years when we reflect on the canon of our black literature, Jasmine and Rudy will be two of our most beloved artists.
@PoetJasmineMans is also known for her writing as a queer black woman, reflected in her most cherished poem “Dear Ex-Lover.” Jasmine’s poetry has teeth. Many would say she speaks with both passion and agitation. Mans just released her newest poetry video "FIRE."
To see what a phenomenal journey this tour has been follow the hashtag #BLCKFOLK on social media!
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In school and in the newsroom, journalists are always taught to eliminate bias from stories. We're told we can’t have an opinion, or that our opinion should not be apparent in our writing. That is good advice for a few reasons: one, readers are a journalist’s currency/validation. If we run our readers away because of our strong opinions, we've lost our credibility as journalists (or at least that’s what they say). Two: it's our job to report the news and let the readers form an opinion.
Many journalists say they abide by those rules and claim they aren’t biased. But I think keeping your opinion out of your own stories wouldn’t be human. To pretend you don’t have an opinion would be lying to readers, and lying to yourself.
As a black journalist, I find these rules even more problematic. When black men get shot by white police, I can’t have an opinion. When black women are abused by white police, I can’t retweet on Twitter or share my feelings on Facebook. No, I don’t expect to be able to rant and rave on social media platforms—because that is neither helpful to the issue nor professional—but I do believe I should be able to express my opinion in an honest, tactful way.
Though black journalists can't express their opinions with the public, they're expected to report on the issue. This is especially true if they're one of the few black journalists in the newsroom (which is often, but that’s another story for another day). Black journalists are expected to go into interviews with sources as if they're neutral, as if the violence against black bodies doesn’t bother them.
This turns into a conflict of personal identity. When working as a journalist, one is expected to first look at themselves as such. One's race, gender, sexual orientation and other ways they might identify come second—and most of the time the rest of their identities might not matter at all. As journalists, they're expected to put their job title first and push every other identifier to the side.
The problem with this expectation is: I am a black journalist. I can't separate my blackness from my work, as I'm usually expected to. I can't separate my blackness from any part of me because, if we’re being honest, I am black first and everything else follows. When I'm in the field, I'm not looked at as just a reporter, I'm looked at as the black reporter. When I'm searching for a job, I'm not just a job candidate, I'm the black job candidate.
So when it's time to approach a story of black tragedy, which is often, I should be able to express my opinion—whether it be through a column, a commentary, a Facebook post, a Tweet or an Instagram post. I should be able to express my agreement with Colin Kaepernick through my stories. I should be able to let readers know how outraged I am about the courts thinking that Sandra Bland’s $1.9 million settlement is justice. After reading my stories, I want readers to know what side I lean toward and who/what I am standing by.
I am not just a journalist. When other races look at me, they first see my blackness, not my journalistic skills or stories or accomplishments. So, as the world of journalism and media is evolving, the rules should do the same. Let’s allow journalists to be honest, and human, first. Let’s allow black journalists to be just that—black.
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Jazz is the essence of black culture, yet for years, black musicians have felt it being taken away by the rapaciousness of commerce and profit.
The newest emerging voice in reclaiming jazz hails from the South Side of Chicago, which gave birth and meaning to international trumpet phenomenon Marquis Hill.
“Chicago made me into the man I am today. Chicago made me into the musician I am today," said the 29-year-old Chatham native. "I’m really excited to be a part of this big Chicago movement that’s happening.”
Hill, fresh off of a tour with legendary bassist Marcus Miller, is back on the road with his band, the Blacktet, performing music from their latest album, The Way We Play. With an album cover of the famous Chicago skyline and a unique approach to composition and improvisation, Hill has one message.
“When you trace the history of everything, it’s all the same. I’m a hip-hop lover, I love blues, I love jazz, I love soul, I love rock. Those forms fall under the umbrella of black music. Now, those were just genre names, but if you want to think about it, it’s really just a melting pot of black music."
Cultural authenticity in jazz music has been a long-debated point of contention in the music community. During the Cold War, trumpeter Louis Armstrong was sent on a U.S. State Department-sponsored tour of Europe in a diplomatic effort to showcase American culture, earning him the name “Ambassador Satchmo.” In more recent years, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis was appointed United Nations Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Kofi Annan under the Bush administration.
In 2014, New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton introduced Black American Music, or BAM, to combat the divisive conversations around the word “jazz,” which he says “prevents an authentic analysis of the art.”
“In Black music there are no fields, per se, there are territories and lineages. It’s very clear who is a master drummer in the tribe and who is not. There is also a rhythmic lilt to how you phrase that is encoded in your DNA that gives a sign as to where you are from,” said Peyton in an article on his website.
Before that, renowned jazz critic Stanley Crouch was fired from the magazine JazzTimes after backlash from his article, "Putting the White Man in Charge," which discussed the commercial push of white jazz musicians over black musicians.
Crouch wrote: "This time white musicians who can play are too frequently elevated far beyond their abilities in order to allow white writers to make themselves feel more comfortable about being in the role of evaluating an art from which they feel substantially alienated… Now certain kinds of white men can focus their rebellion on the Negro.”
Hill has his own ideas.
“The first known recording of ‘jazz’ was an all-white band, I believe the original Dixieland jazz band. They were making a mockery of this black music that was being created by people like Louis Armstrong and all of those cats in Chicago. So it’s just a word that was given to this music from day one, and it just stuck through the generations.”
Since winning the 2014 Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition, Hill has been on an international stage. He was a featured artist with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra, and NPR did a special on him, called The Making of the Marquis Hill Blacktet, which reflected on his journey as a musician, from the Chicago area to international tours. With these experiences in mind, Hill believes that black music connects with audiences everywhere.
“People in Europe and Africa and Asia and people in different continents around the world – they love the music. Funny enough, it’s just here in the U.S. that jazz doesn’t get as much love as it really needs, which takes us back to that word. I believe [Americans] hear the word ‘jazz’ and it turns them off, but internationally, people love and respect the music.
"It’s been really, really eye-opening to me," Hill says. "They treat us like royalty.”
Hill is making sure that his music stays accessible, releasing physical and digital copies in an age when almost everything is streamed.
“It’s very clear the direction we’re going in, in terms of streaming music and downloading. CDs won’t be necessary pretty soon. But I think we’re at the end of that period. There’s still some people that come to live shows and want to leave with a physical record.”
The Way We Play is Hill’s first commercial release with a major label (Concord Jazz). While he previously released four projects independently, he says he enjoyed his experience with the label.
“There are certain protocols that have to happen when you want to make a move," Hill says. "When you want to do something, when you want to make a decision, you have to ask them, to a certain extent. When I was producing these records myself, I was my own boss. I didn’t have to ask anyone. If I wanted to do this, OK, let’s make this happen. But other than that, it was amazing.”
With co-signs from contemporary greats such as Wynton Marsalis, Hill aims to develop his own voice in the music industry.
“The music has always been a reflection of what’s happening in society. It’s been the black voice for a very long time. I think there was a moment where we lost that, but you see artists nowadays bringing that back. And I think that should be one of the major roles of jazz, or black music.”
To keep up with Marquis Hill’s journey, please visit his website MarquisHill.com, or follow him on Instagram and Twitter @MHillsounds.
Thaddeus Tukes is a 23-year-old graduate student at the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications studying Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In addition to his journalism endeavors, Tukes is a professional musician in the city of Chicago and plays the vibraphone. Follow Thaddeus on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
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Luxury is about image. This should come as no surprise. We understand this implicitly; every season brands produce new images to consume alongside their new collections. We indulge in the fantasy of the worlds that these pictures create. In a world that is increasingly splintered and difficult to understand, images, by contrast, are pitched at our desires: For power and prestige, for sex and money. We crave authenticity and history and pine for authority and pleasure. And in our world, still defined by dynamics set in motion at the outset of European colonialism, these desirable qualities are inextricably linked to our very understanding of Europe and the West more globally. To sell luxury is to sell a lifestyle, one often synonymous with ideas of “Frenchness’ (as embodied by the ominous and oft-referenced “French perspective”) and even today fashion editors the world over include mentions of brands’ Italian heritage, framing every new collection in relation to the companies’ nationalities and histories.
And, of course, in examining the actual histories of metropoles like Paris and London, it makes sense that these cities, the cherished and guarded capitals of the Western world, within whose cobbled streets and marbled facades is written the very history of colonial plunder, should be revered as the cultural capitals of that same Western World. Presumably, creativity and time-laden artisanship know no bounds in places unfettered by endemic want or systemic scarcity. And so the real history of the fabulous jeweled embroideries and supple leather saddle bags of France and England is also the history of the jeweled thrones from which ships and plots were launched, and the saddle bags toted along as people were captured and historical trajectories changed forever. Today, fashion overlooks the politics of the images it creates; casually and remorselessly appropriating styles, developing concepts rooted in problematic stereotypes, and most often, ignoring black creativity, ingenuity and beauty all together.
At the same time, it’s obvious that fashion’s visual content is also immediately political; every image presents the author’s own understanding of beauty which, in turn, has long influenced the way we conceive of and interact with the people we meet throughout our lives. Early modern philosopher Immanuel Kant, for example, justified European colonialism by arguing that even slaves who had been freed had never produced anything of comparable beauty to their European counterparts. In turn, beauty has been long recognized as a domain of political influence (the black is beautiful movement emerged at precisely the moment that Stokely Carmichael called for Black Power), and black artists from a variety of disciplines and eras have long embraced the political potential of depicting themselves beautifully, often in defiance of Western norms.
This, I believe, is the function of black art. It offers us a chance to reimagine ourselves, our bodies, our histories and our futures.
It stands in the maelstrom of imagery, a fort in the storm, a window to a new possibility for oneself and one’s own community. Artists such as Nina Simone, Kehinde Wiley, Kerry James Marshall and James Baldwin, all of whom I count among my inspirations, undertook their work with the goal of reexamining their own place in the world. On a personal level, KHIRY is my opportunity to do the same; to reexamine my own history, to find myself, my body, my power and my voice, in the historical record. It is a chance to see my own origins on my own terms, and to champion the beauty and distinction of that heritage.
Ultimately, the process of diaspora is one of spreading; on slave ships and airplanes African people have come into uneasy contact with the broader world. But even as our paths have diverged, the roots of traditions lost and demeaned lay present still throughout the diaspora. In innumerable songs and countless dances, the same hips wind, the same legs bend and reach. In Bahia and Brooklyn, St. Kitts and St. Louis, the same voices climb and the same rhythm pounds, with the insistence of a culture that will not be washed away.
KHIRY is an opportunity to center the black body in the reexamination of this cultural past, and in the struggle to define our collective future. It is the opportunity to take a speculative look at the imagery that surrounds us, and to offer a new vision of blackness; one informed by a truth I’m still searching for, but which I can also immediately grasp. And now, as I present these images, I recognize the soft power that has always existed in luxury; the dark allure of it, its ability to manipulate desire, to impose a perspective onto the world, and to communicate a truth. Perhaps, as countless artists and philosophers have found before, there is some small revolution in that.
Follow Jameel Mohammed, Creative Director of Khiry, on Instagram @khiryofficial. And check out the brand on M'oda 'Operandi.
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No one makes traveling look better than we do! And like most things, it's even more lit when the squad is involved. Here are nine group photos that will inspire you to build your travel team — all the way from Jamaica to Germany.
Dive into the local culture — Germany
@illy_mays dive into the local culture #Germany 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Oct 5, 2016 at 10:47am PDT
International link up — Indonesia
@missakbeauty international link up #Indonesia 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Sep 15, 2016 at 4:17am PDT
Black lives matter — France
@rick_ontherun "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." #Paris #France 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Sep 21, 2016 at 8:15am PDT
When no one flops on the group trip — Jamaica
@milan_candie when no one flops on the group trip #rare #Jamaica 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Sep 21, 2016 at 4:58am PDT
Whole squad in uniform — Senegal
@soukena uniform #Senegal 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Sep 28, 2016 at 4:00am PDT
All together now — Spain
@_jaymaree_ when the crew gets the memo #Ibiza #Spain 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Sep 28, 2016 at 10:34am PDT
Desert beauties — California.
@jnambowa desert beauties #California 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Sep 28, 2016 at 7:03pm PDT
Sun & fun — Jamaica
@themandiebshow sun and fun #Jamaica 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Sep 29, 2016 at 5:09am PDT
African Queens — Florida
@i.am.najr so much epic #Mia 🔸 #soultravel
A photo posted by Travel Black: SoulSociety101™ (@soulsociety) on Sep 30, 2016 at 3:40pm PDT
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For most of my life, I've been an avid lover of hip-hop.
More specifically, the rhetoric behind the trap music sub-genre has reverberated many of my own mantras. Yes, I am a feminist and no, I am not a drug dealer. However, the culture is much deeper than what meets the eye and ear at the surface.
Trap music speaks to those of us who were not afforded the luxury of being born with a silver spoon in our mouths, yet so desperately craved to make something else shake. It offers hope to those seeking to escape the symptoms of sociological, psychological and economic marginalization while allowing us to practice self-expression — as that's often the only thing we truly have ownership over.
From the super chill rhythm, melodic hook and whimsical wordplay to the moody percussion, trap music plays a supporting role in the black free-thinker’s ascension to freedom, fame and financial stability. Growing up in the United States’ thousands of inner cities, public housing projects, wards or boroughs once provided ample room for aspiring to achieve something ‘higher’ than their familiar socioeconomic strata. However, once gentrification comes into play, it becomes a whole new song.
Trap artists openly speak about past struggles while on the come up, attributing much of their success to the neighborhoods they were raised in. Now, many popular zip codes have become grounds for what policy makers call "urban rehabilitation." An area that was created to keep ex-slaves away from the non-black, property-owning population now houses high-rise condominiums, a Starbucks and a yoga studio.
I’ve lived in and visited many major cities in the U.S., witnessing firsthand the rapid growth of gentrification. Social polarization is the very foundation from which trap music arose; now the genre’s artists and fans have nothing to truly call home. I listen to my favorite artists proclaim their love for a neighborhood that was, at one point in time, a glorious Mecca for black culture.
Any sign of an Afrocentric population that learned to make do with the socio-economic margins that they were dealt by the U.S. government is deteriorating faster than our decades-long neglected apartment complexes. Spatial restructuring is forcing minority people and small black-owned business owners out of the very neighborhoods we helped build. As if the appropriation of our culture was not enough, the exploitation of our community epicenters is yet another thing stolen from the grip of underprivileged minority communities in America. What I can hope, as a lover of hip-hop and trap music, is that the artists and fans come together to keep the movement alive—despite the constant attempts of cultural disenfranchisement.
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