How Panelists Used Hip Hop To Touch on Issues in the Black Community

Partnered with Her Campus, Gentlemen of Drew Social Club hosted a panel discussing issues in the black community and ways to solve them. The panel was hosted by G.O.D. members, Phillip Brooks, who coordinated the event, and Raines Warren. Panelists included Howard students Xavier Hamilton, Kesi Felton, Shaquille Shaquille, and Mykelle Richburg. Each panelist referenced hip-hop culture to answer and drive the discussion on the hardships of African Americans. 

Check out some of the best references the panelists used:

When asked: “Why is there a lack of role models in the black community?”

Phillip used a lyric from Kanye West’s “Heard ‘Em Say” to set up his answer: “Where I'm from, the dope boys is the rock stars.”  He used this quote to describe lack of positive role models within the black community. Depending on where someone is from, they will look to a certain person of status as their role model. In cities like Chicago, where money is held to such high standard, kids are known to look to drug dealers and rappers as their idols because they’re the ones with the most cash. 

Mykelle and Kesi mentioned the importance of community and teaching financial literacy: “You’ll know a rapper before you know a politician… As a generation we have to step back and look at things and place emphasis on education.” By doing this, children will see that drug dealers and entertainers aren’t the only people that can lead successful lives. Also, emphasizing education and financial literacy will show them how to use money in beneficial ways, which will ultimately contribute to better role models in our communities.

An audience member asked, “Is it the entertainer’s responsibility to uplift the youth?”

Shaquille answered that it is not an entertainer’s job too uplift the youth, but, those in the spotlight should be aware of those watching them. Xavier followed up with the genius of Jay-Z. As someone in the spotlight, he is aware of his audience and uses his music as an artistic opportunity to uplift and educate African Americans.

Another question asked was “What is the importance of politics in the progress of the black community and how can they help?”

Shaquille made it known that our political system is not contributing to the improvement of black communities. Quoting a line from J. Cole’s “High For Hours,” he added, “The only real revolution happens right inside of you.”

Shaquille also used this line to point out the importance of us in the black community taking it upon ourselves to make the change we want to see for our own people.

 As the conversation shifted to solutions for the issues discussed, an audience member wanted to know, “Can one give back if they don’t have any connections to the hood?”

Shaquille replied that as a black person improving the black community, being African American is the common ground. One shouldn’t feel that they’re unable to lift a helping hand if they came from a different lifestyle outside of an urban community.

Shaquille ended this point with a profound quote from Kanye West’s “All Fall Down” stating, “(Even if you in a Benz) you still a n***a in a coupe.” This line touches on the fact that no matter how much money one makes or where they come from, racism still exists, and it doesn’t make you immune to the issues that surround that. It’s vital to remain conscious of the hardships your community faces and to always make it a point to contribute towards improvement. 

Furthermore, Shaquille made it known that the initiatives toward change should be political to move forward. Xavier added, using Lil Uzi Vert as an example; although this artist lacks in lyrical content and can sometimes be inaudible, what he’s saying is still a testimony as a black person in today’s space. This point touches on the importance of not diminishing someone’s ideas based on the way they voice them because everyone’s tactics may be different. Each political statement is just as important the next, regardless of how poised and practiced it is.

All in all, each panelist gave amazing pointers on issues in the black community and ways to solve them.  The references to hip-hop were an effective way to engage the audience and promote change. Change is vital in order for our communities to flourish.