Does Hip Hop Encourage Teen Violence?

Too Short and Community Leaders Hold Town Hall Meeting By Carla Thomas

Too Short with Spoken Word Artist/Educator Jazz Hudson.

In an effort to begin a dialogue on the effects of hip hop and rap on teen and domestic violence, 100 Black Men, A Safe Place and the Office of Supervisor Keith Carson hosted a town hall meeting at Oakland City Hall featuring celebrity MC / Rapper Too Short. “Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or battered, 10 million children witness the violence annually and every day in the US, more than 3 women are murdered by their husband or boyfriend per 2005 statistics, “ said Supervisor Keith Carson at the March 14 panel discussion. “When I began,” said Too Short, “my rap was fun, and I slowly experimented with a cuss word here and there – gradually the industry would request only those types of lyrics from me.  It’s a business, but we have to begin to draw the line somewhere.” Too Short emphasized that the lyrics produced by hip artists are impacted by where the recording industry puts its money. “I’ve tried to do positive rap in the past, and the industry does not offer you a deal, and rappers with larger labels have no voice,” he said.  “I now want my legacy to bring about a more positive impact on the community with less controversy.” Other speakers at the discussion included Carolyn Russell, executive director of A Safe Place; Dereca Blackmon, A New Way Forward advocate; Jazz Hudson and “Halo” Benjamin Turner, spoken word artists; Davey D, radio show host; and Belafonte Anderson and Lily Hunt of A Safe Place, “We must understand the impact of the media and the way it’s used to demonize us and dehumanize us and the importance of dialoguing without a middle man,” said Davey D. Anderson of A Safe Place said that his organization now serves men. “To educate is to liberate, and many times men have been victims physically and psychologically and without coping skills, become perpetrators of violence,” he said. Blackmon argued that derogatory images of women correlate with increased violence against Black women. “We must weigh the consequences of adopting the behavior of the entertainment industry because youth equate video images with role models, and with hyper-incarceration they are left to raise themselves,” she said. “This is just the beginning of an on-going dialogue, said Dr. Alexander of 100 Black Men, whose organization is opening a school for boys in Oakland in the fall. For more information contact 100blackmenba.org or asafeplacedvs.org
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