The same braids, door knocker earrings, extravagant acrylic nails, and styles of dress that are deemed “ghetto” or “hood” on our people in our communities is deemed “trendy” when it is in mainstream and on runways, not only that but it is making these designers RICH or should I say RICHER. The problem isn’t that our culture is going mainstream and is making money…..the problem is WHO is taking it mainstream, WHO is making money off of it and WHAT are they turning it into.
This is so reminiscent to the Mother Land….Africa, rich in all things. Do you hear me? That land is RICH!!!! It is naturally rich. Rich in diamonds, gold, oil, iron ore and so many other NATURAL resources but the people do not benefit from their own riches. Because of colonialism, other countries come in and make money off of THEIR natural resources. Yes, they take them and get rich off of them. Doesn’t it sound like what’s happening to our culture? They are taking what we created, how we express and uplift ourselves naturally, who we are naturally and they take it and turn it into a machine that makes millions for them.
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Our culture is rich. If you truly research hip hop as a culture, its origins and its purpose, you will immediately feel the richness of the culture. But do you see richness in material terms in the communities that started it? Even hip hop in terms of music has been taken over and exploited for profits, “Hip Hop is currently being used by large corporations to be exploited for profits, reinforce capitalistic ideals as well as a tool to adversely affect Black and Latino Youth. Once corporations began to see the earning potential of rap music, the exploitation began.” (https://itzarap.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/corporate-exploitation-of-hip-hop/)
I used to say, “With a land as rich as Africa, they can take care of themselves, use their riches to bring more money to their people, they can take over, they can be the source, they can get rich off their own supply. Do they know who they are? They are great!” Yea okay but instead of trying to fix someone else’s mess, look at your own. Look at our culture. Do you see what you possess? Don’t you see that everything you create and everything you are is GOLD? They see it. They see it and they are tapping into it. They are taking who you are and what you created and using it to make them rich. They are taking (see: Swagga Jacking) your gold and capitalizing off of it.
In what ways can we use who we are and what we created to bring riches back into our own communities? How can we use our culture to uplift our communities to combat how they use it to poison and destroy our communities? How can we use our culture for its intended purpose to combat how they use it for their own agendas? How can we begin to embrace the richness of our culture and turn it into richness in our communities and for our people? Don’t just think about it…do it.
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Hip Hop was created because we were marginalized. They kicked us out and pushed us to the side. We created our own style and our own sound, with hip hop, we could finally be ourselves. Hip Hop gave us a platform and a voice. Hip Hop was never created to be this multi-million dollar industry that pumps violence, misogyny and materialism into our communities. It was created to be our voice, to give us a space, to make room for us and to uplift us. They can try and commercialize and exploit it but they can never jack the true essence of it. That is something that we must hold onto and that we must nurture, cultivate and use for our own betterment. Our movement will most likely be underground, untouched by their greedy hands, and it will be the change that we all want to see.