HKR ..The other day we sat down with two long time activist/ educators and Hip Hop practitioners, Refa 1 and Mark Anthony Neal to talk about media images of Black people and how it impacted the George Zimmerman trial and folks in general being profiled. We also talked about Hip Hop and how its being used and misused and the steps we must take to push back on corporate dominance.
Refa 1 who is a pioneering aerosol artist who spoke at length about the importance of us controlling our own images and narratives. He noted that Hip Hop started out being something that we controlled and we allowed it to be turned over to corporate entities who literally turned its meaning and message upside down. he talked about the work he’s been doing with Black writers from all over the world to reclaim image and to set new standards for others to follow. He also spoke about the importance staying connected to the hood and doing work in the hood so that folks who are easily influenced can see quality work right in front of them..
Mark Anthony Neal is a professor at Duke University in North Carolina and the author of several books including his most recent one ‘Looking For Leroy Illegible Black Masculinities‘ He talked about the ways Black men and Black boys in particular are recognized and not recognized by society at large. In short we are often prejudged and boxed in to fit a certain type of narrative and stereotype.
Neal kicked off our interview by citing an example of how we react when we see a Black boy with basketball vs a Black boy with a violin. He explained that for many watching the Zimmerman trial, seeing a black boy as thug has become the norm leaving many with very little leeway to see us any other way. Black boy and Black men are seen as people who have to be contained , policed and controlled. He went into further detail as to how that plays out in other situations above and beyond the trial.
Both Refa and Mark talked about ways in which we must reclaim our humanity and how its been systematically stripped from us.. We talked about the ways in which Hip Hop and culture can help us heal and repair our image..
below is the full interview with both men.. Take listen they drop a lot of knowledge.