Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hip Hop at Summer Youth Organizing Institute

I was pumped when the homegirl Anelise asked if I wanted to do a workshop on Hip Hop Organizing Seattle Young People Project's annual Summer Youth Organizing Institute. I'm all about that shit! It was great to connect with some dope young people, and hear their ideas for the uses of culture in creating change. Participants ranged from ages 12-18, from all backgrounds and perspectives. Some of the youth came with decisive concerns and/or background/intent in organizing and working on issues of injustice in their communities, some came with significant experience in Hip Hop as emcees, artist, and producers, and community members in their own right, and some were there because their parents signed them up for something to do during the summer, however all were bright individuals with valuable contributions.

We first talked a little about what Hip Hop is, I presented a quick framework on the various, overlapping uses of Hip Hop as toy, tool, or weapon, a concept I'm working on inspired by the opening plenary of one of the Hip Hop Leadership Conference's of the past. I then asked about what issues they were concerned about or things they've experienced and want to change. From there, we broke up into three rough groups to talk about ideas on how Hip Hop could be used to address issues in 1) Prison industrial complex, 2) Public Education, and 3) Misogyny and the deconstruction of gender binaries in our culture. Below is rough video on some ideas they came up with. Apologies for the audio, and me talking hella loud behind the camera in relation to the levels of the youth. My bad my bad. Next time will be much clearer. Hopefully. Enjoy!


  1. Seattle Young People’s Project allowed me to experience a positive and creative community connection outlet thus empowering me the tools needed to engage, voice, and execute dreams into reality. Allow me to share a reflection of my experience:

    Growing up as an unmotivated youth in West Seattle I was looking to do something positive for a change. I was encouraged to try something different from my high school teachers and next thing you know, I’m surrounded by a team of smart looking youth from various Seattle high schools.

    I remember learning how to work together in teams, to put value in each other no matter what, and to bring service to our community. I also distinctly remember having to present an idea to some Seattle Council members and not being that experienced public speaker at the time having so much feelings of fear in my heart.
    But with the help of my new friends, they encouraged me to follow through and finish the speech. Soon after I was hooked. We did lots of fun activities after that such as serving in a soup kitchen in the U-District and cleaning the parks of King County. It was a beautiful experience at that time and brings me back fond memories of my high school experience 14 years later.

    So let’s continue the tradition of teaching our children, and growing them in a positive environment that will bring hope in their eyes and a better future for our families. Let’s all learn to be leaders and learn how to encourage and connect with them for our future.

    On a side note, I love how the youth have hip-hop influences such as art and my favorite element, dee-jay-ing. Good job on the write up!

    1. Neebor! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences here. Yes, I agree, let's continue the tradition, and meanwhile, let's learn more from them as well. So interesting to hear your narrative from another lens. Much love!