When Cynthia McKinney first announced that Rosa Clemente was going to be her running mate, many greens (myself included) zipped over to The Google to find out just who the heck this woman was. What exactly is a hip hop activist? Upon reading about all of her obvious connections in the hip hop world, I began to envision the possibilities of her ‘crew’ reaching into neighborhoods and communities that Greens have often thought were a natural fit for the party’s message, but somehow have not been able to make the connection.
I’m the first to admit it – I’m about as white as they come. Sure, my musical tastes run to a pretty wide variety, and I’ve been told that I have pretty good rhythm for a white boy, but when it comes to hip hop artists, I’m pretty clueless, and was definitely not a big fan….until tonight.
In an event that was literally thrown together in less than a week, Rosa managed to assemble some of the biggest names on the NYC hip hop activist scene at Public Assembly (on the former site of Williamsburg hipster joint Gallapagos), and what an evening of cultural crossover there was. All of the artists, from Poet & Hip Hop/Reggaeton Artist La Bruja’s poetry, to Umi of P.O.W.’s hard core lyrics, from NY Oil’s powerful message (he had been recently been asked to do a song for an Obama CD – my guess is he will now be uninvited – oops!), to the clever lyrics and rhythms of Rebel Diaz (my favorites of the evening), it was a night to remember. What these artist all had in common was a love for Rosa Clemente, and a deep commitment to social justice. All of them are fighting to reclaim the medium from the misogynist rappers and gangstas that have been such a destructive force in communities of color.
That these artists are such a natural fit in the Green Party was a surprise to artists and Greens alike, but it bodes well for the future of the party, the future of the Hip Hop movement as they become politically active and realize that they have real power is they don’t let the Democrats take them for granted, and the future of the McKinney/Clemente campaign. New petitioners and volunteers were organized for the Cynthia McKinney campaign, money was raised, and everyone had a great time. Now if we only had a few weeks to plan the event, imagine what we could do?
Of course, there were a few local greens involved – Gloria Mattera (NYS co-chair) got things kicked off, and Evergreen Chou, who is running for congress in New York’s 5th Congressional district, was on hand as well. But it was Rosa’s show all the way, and we didn’t really mind that the 7pm-10pm scheduled time ran into 11ish – it was a great moment for Greens in Brooklyn.
Enjoy some of the photos I took tonight. Craig Seeman was on hand to videotape the proceedings as well, including all of the great performances, so hopefully we’ll see some of that soon as well.
Rosa Clemente at Public Assembly in Brooklyn (formerly Gallapagos)
Poet & Hip Hop artist La Bruja
The whole crew, including: Gloria Mattera (with Rosa down front), Evergreen Chou (back row right) and Michael O’Neill (the head shaving petitioner to evergreen’s left) , NYOil (red sweater), Umi (2nd from L back row), and many others.