Category Archives: Rapolitic

Hip-Hop Workshop

Objectives of the Workshops

  1. To reveal to the participants in the program the power they already have within themselves.
    1. This may mean the power to communicate, or the power to make a difference, or the power to tell a story, or anything else.
    2. The facilitators in this program are resources for the participants to tap into to gain knowledge of and proficiency with tools and developing skills. The facilitators are not to approach this program with the perception that they are creating anything in the participants that does not already exist. The facilitators are not putting things into the participants, rather, they are there to help the participants to draw out what is already inside of them, to help them shape it, and to help them organize it.
  2. Intellectually and emotionally process social conditions, and to continue the process of healing from trauma or traumatic experiences that have occurred in the lives of the participants.
    1. This may either be achieve directly by specifically addressing particular events or indirectly through providing a positive outlet through which emotions can be channeled.
    2. The participants are the directors of the productions, they are the creators, and will be the ones responsible for making the decisions about the content of the material produced. This is the practical application of the first objective, and it also provides protection from pushing an issue onto the participants that they may not be ready to address.
  • Whatever the content the participants select, the facilitator is to ask the questions “why is something important,” and “how does that make you feel,” and to seek to look at the content from different perspectives to foster a deeper understanding.
  1. To produce a final project that brings the vision of the participants to life such as, a complete recorded song or album, a video, or a live performance.
    1. The creation of art is deeply personal, cathartic, and expresses power. In addition, the final product is participant driven because the healing and processing component of the creation of art requires this for it to be the most effective.
    2. All three of the potential final products are interrelated, but have different steps, skills, tools, and planning associated with them. They also tend to have differing audiences and levels of impact, so what the participants would like to achieve with their final product will help to direct what that product is.
  • Components of the Workshops (2 days = 1 Week)~10 Weeks

 

  1. Introduction (1 day)
  2. Writing/Voice (2 days)
  3. Music/Beat Production (2 days)
  4. Song or Poem Development (4 days)
  5. Memorization/Recitation (2 days)
  6. Performing (1-2 days)
  7. Audio Recording (2-4 days)
  8. Video Production (4 days)
  9. Rocking A Show (2 days)

 

  • Tools
    1. Depending on the scope, nature, and constraints of the program, as well as, the access to resources, the tools necessary and selected will vary. If there is access to full audio studio and video equipment, then those may be selected when there is not a concern that the participants will have issues continuing to create material after the program.
    2. If the participants of the program would like to continue to produce material after the workshop and do not have ready access to the equipment needed for continued production, alternatives should be selected.
      1. Free For Computer
      2. Free For Phone (look in google play)
        • It is possible to download all the apps/programs necessary for both audio and video production onto a smart phone for free, and while the tools will not be as powerful as a full studio, they are vastly more than sufficient to create high quality material. (This is only an alternative, and it may not work if the participants do not have smart phones, so this must be considered as well.)
          • Music/Beat Production
            • Music Maker Jam
            • Groove Mixer
          • Audio Recording
            • Band Lab
          • Video Production
            • Adobe Clip (Photoshop)
          • Introduction
            1. Introduction of facilitators, participants, and the program.
              1. This may include a performance or display of material in audio or visual, such as poems, songs, or videos. If possible, the participants should be encouraged to display their work and talent as well.
              2. This is a time set up to let the participants an opportunity to get to know who they are working with and vice versa. Perhaps, some history of how music and poetry came into their life and why it is important to them now.

Phone Apps_edited-1

  • It is also a time to get to know the participants, why they enjoy music or poetry, what they would like to do with it, and what they would like to get out of it.
  1. This should be a time for setting the goals of the program.
    1. What kind of product do the participants want to create? Do they want to create audio recordings, videos, or to organize a performance.
    2. How much experience do they have and with what? What would they like help with?
  2. Introduce the tools that will be used to create their material so that the participants can play with them and start to learn what they can do and how to use them; if there are tutorials they can access share them at this time.
    1. There is no real right way to use any of the tools and the best way that I have found to learn any program is simply to play with it. Aside from the basics or how to get it started, my experience has been that most other instruction is not very effective until problems are encountered when attempting to do a specific function.
    2. There will be time set up later in the program, during each particular phase for working through the programs and whatever instruction is needed throughout the process of creating. Initially, this is merely to give the participants access to the tools so they can have something to take with them and get familiar with.
  • Writing/Voice
    1. Writing is the basis of both hip-hop and poetry and at the core of the writing is the voice of the author.
    2. This session or sessions should be devoted to introducing the participants a few different styles of writing; for example, while hip-hop may be a little more constrained in its stanza formation and rhythm, poetry does not necessarily have to be. While hip-hop is traditionally a style that incorporates rhyming, poetry does not necessarily have to.
    3. There is first person or third person perspective to consider. The consistency of tense; past, present, or future. The six basic questions to answer; who, what, when, where, why, and how of a piece of writing. The usage and power of metaphors and similes when discussing a subject. Is it a story, a description, an explanation, an apology, or a statement of fact?
    4. What are the emotional cues and relevance of particular styles and how emotion works with words to convey the desired message.
    5. Practice writing a few styles and putting together stanzas. The facilitator should come up with a few random prompts for the participants to exercise and play with. At the end of each of these sessions give the participants something to work on to bring back with them to the next session to share.
    6. Each subject can be approached from several perspectives and can be approached with many styles. Each has strengths and weaknesses. For example, a first person perspective while powerful may not necessarily be able to adequately address something that bigger than just the individual, or in reverse, something in third person may not really be able address the personal.
    7. These session will be focused on helping the participants select style, perspective, and to develop the voice of the piece so that it will best convey the messages they want to transmit.
  • Music/Beat Production
    1. These sessions will be devoted to learning the music production software, and the layout of the instrumental aspect of a song.
    2. The music can convey as much if not more emotion and intent as do the lyrics themselves. For example, is it fast or slow (excited or repressed), is the music bright or dark, happy or sad, is it scary or inviting; does it change?
    3. Most hip-hop is in a 4/4 time sequence, with sixteen bars to a verse, 8 bars to a chorus; with two or three verses and choruses to a song. It is this sort of standard recipe that identifies how much writing needs to be done and how long the stanza should be. Then there may be bridges, intros and outros also added into the song, with breaks and beat drops to provide emphasis.
    4. The participants will have had about a week or so to play with the software by this point, so hopefully they have some idea of how to use some of it. The facilitator should walk the participants through the basics of how to set up a drum line, bass line, and melody with the software.
    5. The take home assignment will be to create a beat with the structure of a song
  • Song/Poem Development
    1. Combining the writing and beat sessions, the facilitator should now focus on helping the participants to write to the instrumental.
      1. The voice is like a percussive instrument similar to that of the hi-hat of a drum, thus, the rhythm of the syllables of the written words have a sonically pleasing space to occupy as a component of the music; this is called cadence.
    2. The chorus is the thesis, or the underlying point of the song, and what many people will pay the most attention to. The chorus should be something that ties all the verses together and helps to make the song make sense.
    3. If there are three verses, there could be two or four, regardless, each verse should have a function.
      1. For example; let’s say there is a story, verse one can be scene one, verse two can be scene two, and verse three can be the moral of the story or what is learned from the story or why the story is important.
      2. For example; let’s say it’s a description of a problem, verse one defines in broad terms the subject, verse two gets specific to a particular issue, and verse three tell why it is a problem or what can/should be done about it.
    4. Aside from explaining the general structure of songs, the facilitator should really let the participants do their own writing and creation, and be present as someone who can answer questions or provide a sounding board. This will potentially be one of the most personal aspects of the entire process and is where the majority of the internal power of the participants will be developed and expressed. So, the less influence from the facilitator during this phase the better.
    5. The bulk of the writing process will not occur during the facilitated session, but rather, in between sessions, so that the facilitator can help the participants revise their writing as they create their song.
  • Memorization/Recitation
    1. Each facilitator will have different techniques associated with how to memorize their pieces
      1. One suggestion is to work on memorizing line by line without the music at first and as each verse is memorized to then practice saying it with the music. The verse may need to be revised during this process because it may be discovered that breathing is difficult, or that syllables are hard to say in sequence with one another when performed.
    2. When the piece is memorized, or as it is memorized in steps a major practicing technique is to recite it in front of others. When the performer is confronted with more thoughts than only the lyrics, such as, an audience those thoughts tend to interrupt the ability to recite and requires practice to manage the emotional impact of performing from memory.
    3. This is often a long process and will mostly be homework for the participants.
  • Performing
    1. This particular session will overlap with the memorization and rocking a show sessions, but it will be important at this point to discuss stage presence and how to move one’s body with the music and the lyrics because it impacts both focus and breathing. Part of this will include how to hold a microphone.
    2. This session is also a segue into recording the audio and shooting a video
  • Audio Recording
    1. These sessions will dive into how to use the recording software that the participants have been playing with for a few weeks.
    2. The recording method that will be used is called “dubbing,” wherein tracks will be layered onto one another.
      1. For example; Verse one will be recorded in entirety on one track and on another track specific phrases from the verse will be highlighted by recording them again, and lastly, depending on the verse “ad libs” may also be recorded on a separate track to give the song extra character.
    3. The last component of audio recording is called “mixing” which is setting all the levels of the instruments and lyrics to give the appropriate space to hear everything clearly. Mostly this stage is about turning volumes up and down, but it can get a lot more precise with equalizers and reverb effects depending on the time constraints and desires for the final product.

Mic Booth Functional

  • Video Production
    1. These sessions will dive into how to use the video recording and production software/equipment that the participants have been playing with for a few weeks.
    2. A solid discussion with the participants about how to visually represent the material of the song within the budget of the program and participants to begin to develop a plan for how to create the storyboard of the video.
      1. The storyboard details each scene, what will be required to successfully shoot the scene, and how all the scenes will fit together.
    3. The next step is the shooting of all the scenes of the video
    4. The editing process of the video will probably be the most time consuming component because this is where all the clips of video are put into time with the music that has been recorded. Much of the skill for this process will likely have been developed in the music production phase and working with that software. There will be medium specific things to deal with, but the concept of moving pieces around will be familiar.
  • Rocking A Show
    1. Part of rocking a show is setting it up and promoting it.
    2. The video will or can accomplish a lot of the promoting component, but there will also be an aspect of creating a flyer and informing people about the show. This will utilize both paper flyers and social media events and advertisements.
    3. However, before the promotion of a show, a venue has to approve the performance, which entails both negotiation and contracts usually. So, there should be some discussion and practice with securing a venue to perform at.
    4. Because the songs have been memorized and the video shot, much of the preparation for performing live will have already been accomplished. Returning to microphone control, watching cables, and stage dynamics, with a rehearsal or two; and the participants should be ready to perform if they want to.

 

Song Produced & Shared On My Phone Using Some of the Programs Listed Above

 

 

Summary and Benefits of the Hip-Hop/Spoken Word Workshop

 

The participants in this program will learn how to and develop the skills necessary to create and promote an album, to shoot a video, and to perform on stage. These skills will include writing, revising, teamwork, negotiation, contracts, editing, music productions, video production, recording audio, conceptualization, and project management which are all translatable skills into many fields. In addition to that, the participants will also learn how to use an artistic platform, which can be used as a positive outlet to process through their thoughts and emotions.

Depending on the scope of the project and how many songs and videos the participants want to create, the workshop should take between two and three months to complete. There is a lot to learn and a lot to do and moving much faster than that may not provide enough time for the participants to really grasp the programs and skills. In addition, many of the stages of the development of a hip-hop video is by its very nature creative, and that process may be longer than expected for different groups and individuals. So, setting at least two months aside to work through the program should be a sufficient amount of time for at least one or two songs being brought to completion.

“Out Here Doin Good” by Renaissance

 

I am a Black Liberationist, a Prison Abolitionist, and an Intersectional Organizer working for justice for all People. By justice I mean that which provides for the flourishing of all human beings.

This means I am fighting to bring an end to Patriarchy, Sexual and Gender Violence. This means that I work to end Deportations of People especially, when those deportations of people violate Human Rights and Peoples Rights, and when the motivation for migrating in the first place is a direct result of U.S. Imperialism. This means that I am fighting to bring an end to Climate Change, and to bring about Climate Justice because those who are most impacted the anthropogenic climate change are also the victims of Colonialism and Imperialism; People of Color globally. Furthermore, 68% of African descendants in the United States live within the danger zone of a coal fire power plant. Women and children are the most vulnerable and the most impacted by the effects of climate change. This means that I work for equal and fair access to equitable education at all levels and also, to bring about an end to the School-to-Prison Pipeline. I work to bring an end to Police Brutality, who are for all intents and purpose for our Communities, nothing more than the strong-arm of a repressive regime founded upon oppression. I am fighting to bring an end to the System of Mass Incarceration which, is merely the extension of the System of Enslavement in a new form. And the list goes on because there is no shortage of injustice in our world.

Please make a pledge to support my work:
https://www.patreon.com/renaissancethepoet

For us as a People to achieve our Collective Liberation, we must first work through the indoctrination of subordination that has been force fed to us. Thus, I work to implement a Radical Pedagogy with Decolonization at its core. This is sometimes through discussions, sometimes through book studies, and other times through Hip Hop Workshops. In all cases, what I am working with our People to bring about is a critical analysis of ourselves, and the system of systems we struggle within.

Hip Hop Workshop banner

I am a formerly incarcerated individual who grew up in gangs and on drugs. I am now over 16 years sober. When I turned 18 years old I had a 0.0 GPA in high school and no prospects for any sort of life with four felonies. However, recently at 34 years old I graduated from the University of Washington double-majoring in History and Philosophy. My focuses were on the rise and fall of civilizations, social movements, justice, ethics, and jurisprudence (philosophy of law). I am also a veteran Hip-Hop and Spoken Word artist, and I use my skills as a means to instruct and foster dialogue.

Today, I am merely a servant of the people doing what I can, when I can, where I can. The most important part of the work I do is accountability to our community because without it, then I am merely recreating the very same systems of oppression I assert that I am working to overcome.

This work is, in my opinion, some of the most important work that needs to be done. In turn, it is also some of the least paid work. So, I rely on our community to provide the things that I need and to help me to maintain the programs and campaigns that I am working on for our People.

http://azjusticethatworks.org/
https://www.facebook.com/azjusticethatworks/
https://www.facebook.com/noforprofitjails/

https://renaissancethepoet.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/hip-hop-workshop/

 

Please, make a pledge. It does not need to break your bank, not if those who can share the load. Many hands makes light the load. $5 here, $1 there, goes a long way in between the $20 or $50 gifts.

https://www.patreon.com/renaissancethepoet

 

16 Years Sober: Gratitude

Sometimes a moment set aside to display a little gratitude is good. There are a few times a year that this comes about for me, but May 2nd is one of particular importance for me. It was this day, sixteen years ago, in 2001 that the life I now enjoy was given to me. No, that is not the day I was born, that was some thirty-five years ago and we celebrated my born day and my mother on April 5th. 05/02/01 was my first day sober and today makes 16 years.

I remember, when I was 16 years old and in a juvenile prison when an O.G. Vice Lord from Chicago came in to speak with us. He said that he remembered being more free while locked up and more a prisoner while he was on the streets. Back then, I thought he was full of shit. I thought he was out of his mind, so I wrote him off. I was not until I was 19, had overdosed on ecstasy, walked across the country, joined a priesthood/cult type of thing, relapsed, slithered my way back to Seattle and into of self-made pit of quicksand that stretched in all directions as I hurt and destroyed relationships with everyone in my family; doped out, strung out, and on my way to throw myself from the Aurora Bridge that the O.G.’s words came back to me. It was at that moment that I finally understood what he was talking about and what he meant when he said that he was a prisoner on the streets.

That night I made myself a promise, namely, that if my life did not get just a little bit better then, I could always return to the bridge to finish what I started. A brother of mine used to say, “when the pain outweighs the pain, then we change.” What he meant by that was when the pain of doing the same old thing over and over again becomes greater than the pain of doing something different, doing something to change our conditions, then we opt for the lesser of the two apparent evils. Of the many decisions I have made in my life, that is perhaps the one I look back to with the least regret, the most pride, and absolute gratitude and humility. I used to underestimate the power of planting a seed in a mind especially, a mind that seems as though there is nothing for the roots to take hold within. Life is an awesome thing and sometimes it takes much experience to prepare the soil adequately for the seeds once planted to sprout.

For anyone who has traveled down this path than no further explanation is necessary, but for those of you who haven’t it was no easy feat. There were many days that I wished for death to visit me quickly. There were a few years that every day my stomach felt like it was tied in knots because I wanted to get loaded so bad I couldn’t make sense of the world around me. But the people close to me held me down and encouraged me not to give up. One person in particular, aside from my mother who held me down always and with true heart, a bother to me eternally, Marcus. I know for sure that without him and through him, Seance, no one would know me as Renaissance, and I would not have emerged as the prolific artist, emcee, and poet you all know me to be today. I am almost as certain of this fact, as the fact that had I not have gone to that juvenile prison that I would not have met that O.G. whose words eventually granted me the guidance I needed to reclaim my life, and that it was there that I first began to write poetry. These are just a few of the most prominent examples from my life that I appreciate the opportunity to recall that I neither got to where I am today alone, nor would I have really wanted to, and that I have a lot and many people in my life to be grateful for and whom I love dearly to this day.

Since I got sober, I have made the rounds of the people and the institutions I caused harm to when I was lost in my addiction and sought to set things right by them. I got my G.E.D., then my high school diploma, an incredible feat for one such as I who had earned a 0.0 G.P.A. in high school prior to dropping out. I earned a printing degree from Job Corps. I failed out of college my ‘first’ attempt. I worked my way from a day laborer in my mentor’s construction company to being his partner. I started, hosted, and planned the Cornerstone Open Mic with Marcus which we ran for five years and built an incredible family of emcees, poets, DJs, and musicians. I worked with The Service Board (TSB) as a way to pay forward the grace and investment made into my own life by a life-long friend Rice Yoba who showed me that Hip Hop is so much more than blunts, bitches, and 40s, but that it was revolutionary, educational, powerful, and my heritage. And I returned to college, was the valedictorian of North Seattle Community College, and barely skirted under the honor roll at the University of Washington when I graduated double majoring in History and Philosophy. I have studied immigration in Greece, lived with the Peasant Rice Famers in the Philippines, and been a Climate Justice and Black Liberation organizer fighting against police brutality and to end mass incarceration, on the front lines with our Indigenous relatives in Washington, Arizona, and North Dakota, and fighting against the dehumanizing deportation and incarceration policies of the United States.

I have done a lot, that I know for certain would not be possible had I not sobered up sixteen years ago. However, it is not the things I have done or that I have accomplished that matter to me most. It is that I am no longer a slave. It is that I have my own mind. That I can see clearly. That I do not destroy relationships, but I build and nurture them. Today, unlike when I was a youngster, I have the ability, capacity, and the desire to love, and I am loved in return. These are the things in my life that I value the most and that I am most grateful for. These are the things that I fight so hard for and that I will never sacrifice. These are the things that I fight to make sure others have the opportunity to enjoy.

I am because of my community and I only am because of my community. Without my community I would not be. My community is the reason that I am still alive. My community is the reason that I am here. And my community is who I receive my direction, guidance, and passion from. I am an extension of my community and my community is an extension of me.

There are two people in particular from my community who I esteem above all others and who have had the greatest impact on my life and who I am as a human being, my mother and my partner. My mother not only gave me life, but has been the continuous rock and guiding light who has kept me grounded on the right path since I was born, and she has never wavered.  No matter how tight money was, or how hard times were, she always loved me and my brother unconditionally and gave freely of herself without question or regret. She has worked hard all of her life and has always put others before herself. She taught me everything I know about being a man. I can remember, how she would scowl at my brother and I when we were younger and be like, “I am not going to go clean up after someone else all day long only to come home and clean up after you monkeys!” She taught me the value and the reward of hard work and that I am never to push my responsibility off onto others, especially women who already give so much. Without her and her love and guidance, I most certainly would not be. And my partner in life and in crime, my heart; I would be lost without her. Until I met her, I did not think that true love actually exists. I did not think that I could devote myself to someone else so fully, or that I could ever permit someone to be so devoted to me. She continues to surprise me and to reveal the beauty of our world to me. She has this way of seeing the beauty in everything and everyone, that until years together was simply beyond me. And whether times are at their worst or at their greatest, for four years now I have been blessed to share and be partner in everything. Zahara took me to my first protest when Portland Rising Tide organized and shut down the Columbia River in protest of the tar sands that were being shipped through Washington to be transported to China. It was Zahara, who showed me that I am nothing without my community, but that I am everything with you and that I am liberated. It was Zahara who helped me to believe that I and you have immeasurable value and that we are worth much more, and that we are worth fighting for. Without my mother and my partner, I would not be Renaissance and I would not be the human being I am today.

I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for each and every one of you. I am grateful that today I have the opportunity to continue to strive for the life I know we all deserve and to become a better human being. And whether anyone reads this or not, at least I know, that I have taken, if but a moment, to display my gratitude.

Thank you.

#PowerToThePeople

An Earth Day Post-The World We Want

#EarthDay

What kind of world do you want? Do you want a world where there is no arable land, where there are no fish in the seas or oceans, where islands have been submerged, and where the government’s science division designated to forestall these occurrences flourish? Do you want to live in a world where impoverished people, Black People, and Other POC folx globally are disenfranchised, marginalized, exploited, invisibilized, and considered to be expendable externalities?
 
Or do you want to live in a world where your future and the future of your children matter, where people are not after thoughts in economic equations, where it is not big business and illegitimate governments who do not represent the PEOPLE who are making decisions about our lives and our futures?
 
Zahara and I have been talking a lot lately about consumerism and consumer culture, and how so many of the mainstream environmental solutions are consumer based. Consumerism in the United States, where the people here have a carbon footprint of four times the Earth’s resources do not need to be developing plans for us to consume more, but rather to consume less. However, what we often see is that attention is focused on the point of extraction, instead of the point of consumption as the problem. Real talk, the Global South would not be suffering exploitation, imperialism, or the harmful effects of #ClimateChange if the West was not so hell-bent on consuming all their resources. Consuming more is not the solution.
 
“It is like the philosophy of a man having a headache who beats himself on the head with a hammer to get rid of the ache.”
 
#Capitalism, #colonialism, #patriarchy, #racism, #consumerism, #imperialism, major #agrobusiness, #PrisonIndustrialComplex , anon… essentially the structural underpinnings of our entire system need to change if we are to actually achieve the world most of us, and most certainly the most impacted, seek to achieve.
 
Each one of us shares some responsibility, some much much more than most others, for the world we create. External change begins internally, this is a spiritual journey. Consumerism is fueled by a fabricated and facilitated feeling of incompleteness. This society is designed to make people feel incomplete. And so, it leads people to reach without, to take, to consume to seek to try and make themselves complete; and the very thing we think will satisfy us and bring us life is that which is killing us.
 
 
#PowerToThePeople #Liberation #ClimateJustice
 

Renaissance: Artist, Activist, Revolutionary

I recently launched this Patreon Page where our community can invest in the work I do. After graduating college and with the host of skills and talents I have I thought for sure I thought I would be gainfully employable. That however, has not been the case for me. What has happened is that I have been volunteering all of these skills and talents I have to see that our communities and the world we live in will become a better place. And while I would otherwise be just fine continuing to do that, that is however, not how the society we live in functions and it will be impossible for me to continue without your support. So, I launched this Patreon page to provide our community with a platform to do just that.

Too often, we are compelled to purchase products that were developed without our input, but they are there and we need or want something kind of like them, so we do. However, you have the awesome opportunity to invest in the creation of what you want and to help shape the outcome, with my new Patreon account. And then you get the product you made an invested to receive.

There is no need to think that you have to break your bank to sponsor my work, you can pledge as much as you want or as little as a dollar. The truth be told; I would rather have the one-dollar support of a thousand people than the thousand-dollar support of one person because I am a man of the community, for the community. Although the bottom-line outcome is the same, the impact is not. When a thousand people display their confidence in the work I do by valuing it enough to invest in it then I will be reassured that I am doing what the community wants of me. It is however also very revealing when someone chooses to show how much they value my work by investing more in it. Nonetheless, it is not how much you pledge that is really important to me, it is that I produce work that is worthy of the pledge you made.

Please, if you have a few moments, follow the link to my Patreon page and if after looking it over I still have your interests, then please consider making a pledge to invest in my work.

Thank you.

 

https://www.patreon.com/renaissancethepoet

Understanding Repression, Suppression, Oppression

We tend to conceptualize the terms oppression, suppression, and repression to mean exactly the same thing in general conversation and while this is not true, they are nonetheless, interrelated.

To repress is to keep under control, to keep down or to suppress.

To suppress is to put an end to the activities of a person, body of persons, etc.

To oppress is to burden with cruel or unjust restraints, subject to a burdensome or harsh exercise of authority.

The aim of all three of these is to seek to control a person or group of people for some end that is not defined by the subject but, rather, by the object. Any time person (A) seeks to limit or control the actions or thoughts of person (B) is an expression of repression. Both suppression and oppression are means to achieve repression. At the core of this is the denial of person (B)’s agency by person (A), which is in turn a rejection of person (B)’s humanity. This is precisely how Paulo Friere defines oppression and what is wrong with it in the book Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

However, the situation is a bit more complex because not all acts that appear to fit the definition of repressive are by their very nature unjust. To seek to control the actions or the thoughts of a rapist, molester, or murderer, or an anti-Black racist Ku Klux Klan member with the aim of preventing harm to others is not necessarily unjust. The factors that may make such repression unjust are not the repression, but the manner in which the repression is carried out. For example, murdering members of a racist group merely for their affiliation and not because they have themselves done anything harmful. To do so is to become the oppressor and not to achieve real liberation for our people, as Paulo Friere argues can happen. Furthermore, this is by definition one of the conditions of genocide.

 

On the other hand, accountability circles and restorative justice practices which bring into focus a person’s behavior respecting their agency and humanity and working through what was wrong with a particular situation and working with them to grow so as not to recreate those same harms is a just form of seeking to help a person develop their thoughts and actions. As such, this overcomes the definition of oppression and is not exactly consistent with suppression because it is not an outside entity that shifts the behavior of person (A), but rather internally within person (B) because through a process of reconciliation their analysis has broadened and deepened, thus, becoming more humanizing.
Understanding these terms and what they mean is vital to developing our critical analysis of the conditions under which we live through deep personal and interpersonal examination. Furthermore, it permits us to engage with the complexity of social organization and what may on the surface appear to fit the definitions of oppression, suppression, or repression and to draw a clearly defined boundary between the just and the unjust practices, policies, procedures, and socialization processes of our world.

Hip-Hop Helps Reconciliation in Northern Uganda

Today, there are young people who did not experience the war. Together with national and regional artistes, we can motivate the young generation and improve their talents. We believe that hip-hop can unite everyone no matter what their age

~B Boy Skater George

 

After over two decades of war,

Northern Uganda Hip-hop Culture (NUHC) is working to foster reconciliation amongst indigenous communities in the northern part of the country. With outreach activities, NUHC uses hip-hop to promote harmony and understanding.

nuhc-1

  • NUHC is a non-profit organization which coordinates, educates children and adults in the community.
  • Northern Uganda Hip-hop Culture (NUHC) is an association which unites rappers, break-dancers, graffiti artistes, art and fashion creators, producers and young farmers from the northern region.
  • It was founded in 07th June 2010, with the aim of transforming the lives of young people in northern Uganda, an area which suffered greatly during the civil war, which left the region lagging behind other parts of the country.
  • NUHC offers free lessons and uses the Kitgum Youth Centre for training. Its members regularly conduct community outreach activities in various parts of northern Uganda.

Finance and Materials are needed for:

  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Cameras
  • Computers
  • Speakers
  • Microphones
  • Carpets (for Break Dancing)
  • Miscellaneous Supplies

The funding and materials raised for NUHC

will be used to help them continue and extend their work. 

NUHC hosts events during the year

and the organization requires funds to rent venues and sound systems,

for T-shirt printing, and hosting performers and artists.


I will be collecting the money and supplies that are donated.

To donate money for NUHC please follow this link

https://www.paypal.me/renaissancethepoet

and note “#NUHC”

To make a donation of supplies please email me at

renaissancethepoet@gmail.com

and I will provide information on how and where they can be sent


 

Northern Uganda Hip-Hop Culture (NUHC) Background and Mission

 

nuhc-2At NUHC, young learners are taught classes in break-dancing, skating, rapping and graffiti. Through yearly events and weekly classes, participants develop leadership and communication skills. Stories are shared about the war as well as the organization’s aims of peace, unity and love in the communities, villages and throughout the entire world.

“Many people’s hearts and minds are still scarred by their experiences in the war. Music can help to bring everyone together. That is why we are using these activities to spread the hip-hop culture to the young generation,” said Okurut George (aka B Boy Skater George), who teaches break-dance, and is one of the NUHC organizers.

We tell stories about the war because many people still hold hatred to their friends, relatives, brothers and sisters in their hearts. Expressing their feelings helps the healing and hip-hop music can assist this process,” B Boy Skater George added.

During the war, communities and families were displaced, famine was widespread, outbreaks of diseases and people had to live in, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camps. These were camps that protected people from rebel attacks. Thousands of people died during the war period. Homes, farmland and animals were abandoned which lead to bitter land disputes. Children dropped out of schools and were forced to join rebel armies. The children who refused to join the rebel armies were killed. Girls were forced into early marriages, raped and/or defiled which resulted in large numbers of young mothers. The level of education in the northern region has been significantly reduced for all children.

 

Alcohol in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Northern Uganda

nuhc-3

Studies among people living in camps in wartorn northern and eastern Uganda indicate that alcoholism is a common problem among the internally displaced populations (IDPs). While most of the pers
ons consuming alcohol are men, it is reported that, increasing proportions of women and adolescents are also drinking alcohol (Barton and Wamai, 1994)8. Women and girls who brew alcohol often ask young children to sell it, thus introducing children as young as 8 years to the drinking alcohol. This is facilitated by mothers giving alcohol to children as medicine because of the cultural belief that alcohol cures coughs and worms among young children. A recent report by MacDonald in 2007 on substance use in conflict-affected areas and IDPs in Gulu, Kitgum and Pader Districts9 highlights a situation of serious alcohol use in the IDP camps of northern Uganda. This situation is attributed to the 20-year insurgency in Acholi land, the lack of security, social displacement, and confinement in cramped, crowded and unsanitary camps and lack of employment. Such conflict-related factors as well as associated problems like HIV/AIDS and other STIs greatly increase the possibility of substance misuse. Macdonald noted that the main gap in service provision for substance users and affected others is the lack of capacity of healthcare and social service providers in the camps to effectively reduce risk taking and facilitate harm reduction services in community settings. Problems of substance abuse, particularly alcohol-related sexual gender-based violence (SGBV), are acknowledged in the camps but very little is done to address these issues or develop interventions relating specifically to the excessive consumption of alcohol.

nuhc-4Oryema Geoffrey (aka B Boy Message), who works as a teacher with George explained, “Although the war ended in 2007, the memories still haunt people. That is why we are using hip-hop to spread a culture which shows that peace, unity and love can lead to success in everything. We may have lost our homes, family members and friends during the war, but now is the time to move on from the past and learn to forgive each other. Being in a long period of strife does not mean that your life and dreams are over.”

 Alcohol and young people

The patterns of alcohol consumption among the youth show signs of cultural influence. Most tribes have a culture of brewing alcohol in homes thus exposing the youth to alcohol at an early age. As young people reach adolescence, alcohol consumption increases due to
peer pressure. The study revealed that young people prefer strong local spirinuhc-5ts which are easily accessible in miniature sachets at very low prices. Young people also engage in binge drinking during public events and parties, at most of which local companies sell alcohol at discounted prices. By age 21 many young people stop drinking, because there is a lot experimental usage before this stage. Limited information about harmful use of alcohol, desire to indulge in sexual activities, peer pressure, stress, poverty and unemployment have caused many young people to continue drinking. This is at times sporadic and may result in accidental poisoning or drowning at beaches as has been reported in the local press.

Today, there are young people who did not experience the war. Together with national and regional artistes, we can motivate the young generation and improve their talents. We believe that hip-hop can unite everyone no matter what their age

~B Boy Skater George


 

 To Contact the Organizers or See More about NUHC

 

WordPress: https://nuhculture.wordpress.com/

 https://www.facebook.com/nuhculture/

Video: Northern Hiphop Camp 2015

In the News:

https://thepollinationproject.org/grants-awarded/leah-walkowski-and-mwaka-benson-northern-uganda-hiphop-culture/

“Trump Card” by Renaissance

 

 

Many of the things that we as warriors for justice have fought for over generations are in jeopardy because of the President Elect. Labor unions, People of Color, LGBTQ Rights, Reproductive Rights, Immigration Rights, Human Rights, Civil Rights, Environmental Sustainability and Justice; this new administration is targeting nearly everything we as a people need to protect just to live day-to-day. Not that this isn’t true on any other day, just more so today, now is a time that we must act in unison to ensure or liberties and immunities are not destroyed.

Many will wonder about the choice of the title “Trump Card.” It is a saying that predates Donald Trump by over a century and means an unexpected and unforeseen condition or factor that overcomes all opposition. We the People and the Social Movement are the unexpected and unforeseen factor that will emerge victorious, which is precisely what I wrote to this song to report and encourage.

“All Lives Don’t Matter” by Renaissance

 

Written in response to the “All Lives Matter” slogan and belief that has been a tactic of invalidation of the Human Rights and Civil Rights struggle, which the #BlackLivesMatter Movement embodies, this piece rips into the history of legislation, constitutional amendments, the rise of the prison industrial complex, and the impact these racialized systems of oppression, socially and legally reinforced, and how they harm People of Color.

The twisted and disgusting perversion of my declaring that my life has value and that I deserve respect merely by the fact that I am a human being, into something that is a denial of anyone else’s life having value and deserving respect is purely idiocy and ignorance, and extreme expression of #WhiteFragility and privilege. This system does not treat people all the same and the data that proves this is astounding, but one need only look at the laws and how they have been applied to perceive that this system is racist at its core

Justice, Equity, Liberty: The Revolution

When I was a child, to me there was something magical in the word “American.” It stood for something special. It meant something powerful. I understood it to mean freedom, justice, and equity. I believed what I was told, that “I could be anything I wanted to be.” I dreamed of being a baseball player and a construction worker, an architect, and even the President of the United States. I played baseball, not professionally, but I played on a team. I studied architecture for a time. I owned a construction company for several years. And I was even the president of one of my schools. For most of my life I do not think I ever really doubted the version of America that was taught to me in grade school. The America that was founded upon justice, equality, and liberty. That every human being had the inalienable right to life and the right to the pursuit of happiness. Inalienable means a thing which cannot be made separable. But, if the right to life cannot be separated from any human being, then how can the State justify depriving one of life and therefore, alienating one of their right? Even if it is desirable that if a person is found beyond a shred of doubt to have committed the most heinous and horrendous of acts, and who is also not safe to maintain in confinement should be put to death, how does that justify officers of the law being responsible for the deaths of people who have had no due process of law, no fact finding, and no trial? This does not fit any definition of justice I have ever read. How is it that a State whose guiding principles are liberty and democracy is responsible for the destruction of liberal and democratic societies elsewhere? How is it that a country that screams “freedom” at the top of its lungs, touting privileges and immunities, can simultaneously also be responsible for one of the gravest institutions of enslavement this world has ever known? How is it that in the “land of the free” twenty-five percent of the prisoners of the world, who have been stripped of their liberty, their civil rights, and their human rights are being warehoused and compelled to work in a neo-enslavement? These rights, are rights that are supposed to be inalienable, that is inseparable, but that is not the case. How can a government that touts “equality before the law” also be responsible for the starkest, meanest, longest lasting, and most vile genocide ever experienced on this world, and is still oppressing Native Americans, the descendants of the survivors of that genocide to this day? How is it that a nation, supposedly founded upon equality, can permit at least three different and unequal versions of America to coexist? The version of America that was taught to me and the version of America that I have come to know are inconsistent. The values I was told existed at the core of our society have turned out to be the values we need most at the core of our society, but are absent. It has come about that the America I loved as a child is but a dream, an illusion, and a fabrication. The reality of America is nothing comparable to the dream. It is a nightmare.

The values of justice, equity, liberty, and democracy pulse from the core of my being. I believe it is possible for us to achieve a society, as a people, wherein these values are the guiding principles. I see a time and place where our people are appreciated and loved for the natural and necessary differences that make us human beings. I see a world where criticism is valued because it is understood that it comes either from a place of pain or misunderstanding, and as such provides either and opportunity to right wrongs and heal harms, or to illuminate and educate. I see a world wherein the color of our skin reveals the richness of our history, deepens our cultural understanding, expands our conception of what it means to be a human being, and enhances our inclusiveness. I see a world that is more concerned with positive tension than a negative peace, that, is more apt to resort to concession than violent opposition because it is intimately known that together we are stronger, better, more vibrant and alive than we are apart and at odds in competition with one another. I envision a world that embraces sexual difference that has broken free of the chains of discrimination, where the harmful gender norms have been shattered, where there is no prescription for and limitation of what a person can achieve or who they ‘should’ be. Because we have realized that these limitations and prescriptions constrict our ability to evolve as human beings. I see a world wherein everyone has a role to fulfill and no one is bared from or denied work, but that each unique perspective and skill is utilized and allowed the creative liberty to enhance our whole civilization. I see a world when the institution of enslavement is but a relic and a warning against a return to a tragic and ignorant past that not only believed that distinctiveness was harmful, but also that it was possible to evolve in isolation. I see a world wherein “justice” carries its true meaning of that which provides for the flourishing of our civilization and not the perverted and twisted interpretation of it as mere punishment. Through the lens of justice it would be clear that harm occurs when people are in torment, when they suffer greatly themselves and believe they are in such an isolation that what they do unto others is not in reality what they do unto themselves. Through the lens of justice it would be clear that a theft of some form of ‘property’ was because people felt the deprivation of resources, the absence of security, and the void of interconnectedness. And through the lens of equity a path to right these wrongs and to heal these harms would emerge and surface from the pits of despair and suffering, guiding us toward justice and a world in which liberty can flourish.

The path laid before us is certainly not easy and we will not make it there overnight. The ideologies that have guided our civilization to the point it is at now are deeply entrenched and are even attached to people’s sense of identity. These ideologies have been written into law, they have provided the spiritual and theoretical foundations of nearly all of our institutions and social constructions, and even permeate our artistic representations of the world. These ideologies have led to actions that have created harms that now foster feuds centuries-old, whose memories incubate and fertilize distrust and hatred. The outcome thus far, has been an almost inescapable caste system wherein people are locked into privilege or pestilence. Those in the privileged caste, who have their privileges as the result of an unfair distribution of burdens upon people who are disadvantaged and disenfranchised, will not relinquish their grasp of the benefits they reap because they will feel as though they are being wronged. They still operate under the antiquated and quite mistaken belief that what can be taken or secured by force, whether by military, or by paramilitary police, or by personal injury is by right theirs and not the people’s. It is precisely this institution of force that is buttressed with an indoctrination of the ideologies that have led us here that has brought us to an impasse.

The path laid before us is one of complete revolution. A revolution that will not only change the structure and the dynamics of who is in power, but what power actually is. This revolution will not only concern leadership, but the entire composition of our civilization. This revolution will revise our conception of what it is to be a human being. There has yet to be a bloodless revolution, but ultimately, this revolution will and must be waged in the hearts and minds of every single one of us because this is a spiritual revolution. We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience. We start as spirits, our spirits take form, and to spirits we return. We are not the creations of our institutions, but rather, our institutions are the creations of spiritual beings who have become confused by a human experience dislocated and estranged from our spirits, connection to the world, and to each other. It is this dislocation that permits the violence, the carnage and the havoc that plague our civilization. Because we have been estranged from our connection to the world and to each other we believe that we exist in relative isolation and that what we do to one another does not impact and affect us personally, but that in reality is not possible. Thus, because our spirits emanate out into the world creating institutions through our human form, by waging the revolution on the plane institutions we but scratch the surface. But by waging the revolution on the spiritual plane we go right to the source and from there a revolution of our institutions will take shape naturally as a result. In place of the individualism that has been set as the cornerstone of the foundation of our spiritual core the values of justice, equity, and liberty must be planted and protected so that they may grow and blossom.

What I have grown to understand is that it is not America that I fell in love with as a child, but rather, the spiritual values it espoused. Today, it is still those values that I am in love with and that which I place all my hope and aspiration. In turn, and by corollary, it is with humanity that I place my trust and faith in because we are interconnected spiritual beings who depend upon each and every one of us for survival and liberation. The revolution is on and either we evolve as we greet this impasse, or we shall meet extinction as we destroy ourselves and our world. Such is the nature of evolution. However, I see a future in which our culture has yet again risen to the challenge and overcome almost insurmountable odds. I believe in us. The revolution is budding.

 

 

#JusticeEquityLiberty