‘Occupy the Vote’ hip hop concert
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Election Day 2012 is quickly approaching. Once again the people of Detroit are working to raise awareness about the importance of casting a ballot and the necessity of getting people registered to vote. On Oct. 7, “Occupy the Vote 2012,” a hip hop concert and community rally, will take place at the Redford Theater as a registration drive and dialogue about the candidates and the issues on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“Occupy The Vote 2012” is presented by In The Black Media Group, in cooperation with KK Produxions and General Population. Guest speakers include Tony Trupiano, of AM 1310’s First Shift with Tony Trupiano and Rev. D. Alexander Bullock, state coordinator for Rainbow PUSH Michigan and pastor at Greater St. Matthew Church.
Music acts for the evening include 3/Fifths: The Band, Volcano and the New Radio Standard, Ladee Flipside of Chicago, and Supa Emcee, who was recently selected Hip Hop Artist of the Year at the Detroit Black Music Awards. The DJ for the evening will be Uncle P. The Redford Theatre is located at 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit.
Tickets for “Occupy the Vote 2012” are $10, doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m.
Since the beginning of hip hop culture, events and concerts have often been organized to bring social engagement to critical issues within communities, despite the frequent negative portrayal of hip hop in corporate media.
Joseph Black, a member of the group 3/Fifths: The Band, helped to organize “Occupy The Vote 2012” as a way to register voters, share information about the candidates and assist people to understand the most effective ways of communicating with elected officials. He understands that hip hop has a long history of talking about important issues and believes hip hop can help spread information to a wide demographic often ignored by traditional campaign events.
“I felt like it was important to me because hip hop is often-times presented in a negative light, especially in stories that get media attention from the Channel 4s and Channel 2s,” says Black. “So I felt it was important to show the flip side of that and give people something to counterbalance that and show that not everything that goes on in hip hop is negative and it can be used to actually make change on a wide ranging level.”
In 2008, Barack Obama mobilized voters within the hip hop community with an exciting and historical campaign that led to his election as president. However, young voters often don’t understand the importance of having access to the polls whereas age and experience, many believe, can give people a stronger connection to the history of a time when women and Black voters were refused the right to cast a ballot.
Adding voter awareness to the diversity of topics expressed in hip hop culture could be one way to help youth understand this history and their place in the legacy of struggling for greater rights as United States citizens.
Nineteen-year-old hip hop artist King Kold has decided not to vote this election because he does not believe it reflects the most productive method of neighborhood development. He is a community-engaged youth program leader for 5e Gallery’s media literacy education program and is proud of the choice he makes to write rap lyrics with content that reflect strong social values.
“I look at economics as a tool of slavery,” says King Kold. “I don’t believe in giving people power over anybody that I love.”
Political analysts on the local and national level are expressing increased frustration over record-setting amounts of money spent on elections, highlighted by the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that immediately led to corporate campaign contributions becoming more difficult to trace.
With so much money and power at stake in electoral politics, some voting age adults are seeing this trend as a call for a new way of working for change.
“I could vote for either Obama or the other guy,” says King Kold, “but it doesn’t matter in the end because it’s control. In reality, everything is changing and I believe it’s about that time where people should stop voting altogether because of what’s going on. I think people are beginning to fight instead of taking everything that’s coming their way.”
Events like Occupy The Vote 2012, including those voiced by King Kold, need to address all the reasons for people choosing not to vote this coming Nov. 6 if they hope to have success in convincing the greatest number of people possible to turn out to the polls. While hip hop culture can be used to create alternative ways for communities to advance, it can also be a way to communicate with elected officials to help them serve a part of society that often feels voiceless.
For more information about Occupy The Vote 2012, call Joseph Black at 313.687.7877 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.occupythevotedetroit.eventbrite.com.