Thursday, June 26th, 2008

How Korean B-Boys Took Over The World

Rivers Crew in the flow.
Photo by the incomparable magnificent Joe Conzo. Biters will be beheaded.

My piece on R16 and the evolution of Korean b-boying is finally done and up. Big big big up to the super-supreme Joy Yoon, the R16 lifers in Seoul and New York (you know who you is), my patient fixers/translators James, Erica, Anna, and Joe and all of the dancers, producers, and rappers, whom I met but couldn’t include, especially Sean II Slow who hosted us for an evening at his studio in Hongdae.

A teaser here:

This summer, the United States is reaching new heights of dance fever as TV shows like Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” and MTV’s “Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Top Dance Crew” have returned to the airwaves. MTV’s runaway hit is considered especially cutting edge, showcasing hip-hop dance groups from across America. But if MTV really wants the best dance crew, it should be looking in South Korea.

“Of the top six or seven crews in the world, I’d say half of them are from Korea,” says Christopher “Cros One” Wright, 33, an American dance promoter and b-boy who was recently in Suwon, South Korea, to judge the second annual global invitational hip-hop dance competition, called R16, that was held at the end of May.

The development of South Koreans’ hip-hop dancing could be seen a cultural parallel to their sharp global ascendance in electronics and automaking. A decade ago, Koreans were struggling to imitate the Bronx-style b-boy and West Coast funk styles that are the backbone of the genre. Now, a handful of these crews are the safest bets to win any competition anywhere.

Certainly no country takes its hip-hop dance more seriously. The Korean government — through its tourism board and the city of Suwon — invested nearly $2 million in this year’s competition. Two of the most successful teams, Gamblers and Rivers, have been designated official ambassadors of Korean culture. Once considered outcasts, the b-boys now seem to embody precisely the kind of dynamic, dexterous and youthful excellence that the government wants to project.

Although hip-hop dance goes back at least 35 years, the top Korean b-boys trace their histories back just 11 years, to 1997, the Year Zero of Korean breaking. By 2001, the first year that a Korean crew entered the Battle of the Year — the world’s biggest b-boy contest — they won “best show” honors and a fourth-place trophy. Every year since, a Korean crew has placed first or second. Says Battle of the Year founder Thomas Hergenrother, “Korea is on a different planet at the moment.”

The full thang is here. If ya dig, then Digg. If ya buzz, then Buzz.

BTW here’s my earlier wrap-up on R16 and direct links to the semis and finals videos.

posted by @ 9:23 am | 3 Comments

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Is The Republican Party Dead?

In his blog, Ferentz asks the question of the week: “What on earth happened to the Republicans?”

Topical, yeah?

It’s the question behind Joe Bruno’s surprising resignation from the New York State Senate, which in the long term, could mean a shift in state power back to the Dems for decades to come.

It’s the question behind Scott McClellan’s supposed imminent conversion to the Democratic party.

And it’s the topic on the table for the cover of Harper’s Magazine this month, as conservatives Kevin Phillips, Scott McConnell and others weigh in under the banner headline: WHY THE GOP MUST DIE.

The upshot is that the party of Bush and Rove have led conservatives into a blind alley with the wars and the economy because they insisted on governing from the Right with a paper-thin majority.

It’s fun to see conservatives putting their own party on blast. Here’s Phillips: “A major Republican weakness that doesn’t get noticed is their inability, despite all their macho muscle-flexing, to bring foreign wars to a successful finish.” Zing!

And it’s also great to see folks who really understand that demographic changes force Democrats to forge a new majority not merely to pander to soccer moms and angry white men. Of course, these guys don’t work for the Democrats. They’re way too smart for that.

So before Democrats get too happy, some words of warning from Phillips, the most compelling conservative ever:

PHILLIPS :: …the public showed that it can produce a significant swing in 2006, in electoral terms. But the issues on which they suppopsedly voted are not being addressed. How do you vote to get everybody out of Iraq for example? Vote for the Democrats? That hasn’t worked so far.

MCCONNELL :: And it cuts both ways. The people who have been voting Republican for the past thirty years on cultural rather than class issues–i.e. culturally conservative Reagan Democrats–have gotten nothing for their votes either. But there is no evidence whatsoever that they are going to stop voting Republican.

KEVIN BAKER, Harper’s Magazine contributing editor :: It’s like you have this weird inversion of Tammany. They don’t get you out of jail, they don’t give you a turkey at Christmas, they don’t do anything for you, and yet somehow they keep winning.

THOMAS SCHALLER, professor University of Maryland :: The irony is that today the government has far more power than in the past. It is a much larger part of the economy, and so when it moves a lever, it can expect a dramatic effect.

PHILLIPS :: And yet people increasingly seem to believe that their votes don’t matter, that these parties aren’t any different from each other. It’s all just a big game. Democrats are the not-Republicans and Republicans are the non-Democrats. And if None Of The Above could be on the ballot, it would scare the bejesus out of everybody. What a choice that would be!

posted by @ 2:17 pm | 1 Comment

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Breakin’ The Vote! :: The Best PrObama Video Yet

Courtesy of Shecky Green…

posted by @ 8:39 am | 1 Comment

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Muslims, Obama, And The Potential Perils of Victory

Thoughts on a well-reported piece about the Obama campaign’s apparent Islamophobia. The piece resonates with a number of things I’ve been writing about, right up through yesterday.

I was writing about communities of color expecting a certain kind of “change” in Obama’s message, that is, a greater push for racial justice.

Here’s Minha Husaini, an Muslim American in her 30s now working in the Obama campaign:

“He gives me hope,” Ms. Husaini said in an interview last month, shortly before she joined the campaign on a fellowship. But she sighed when the conversation turned to his denials of being Muslim, “as if it’s something bad,” she said.

In fact, the article reports, the campaign is even stricter about regulating Obama’s appearances–and even the appearance of subordinates–at Muslim American events, culminating in last week’s resitting of two young women wearing hijabs. Obama himself called the young women to apologize.

Truth be told, for many Muslim American activists and other grassroots progressives, the Obama campaign can be, at best, a big buzzkill machine and, at worst, a wheel-shattering brake on “change” and “hope”.

Throughout the primaries, Muslim groups often failed to persuade Mr. Obama’s campaign to at least send a surrogate to speak to voters at their events, said Ms. Ghori, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

Before the Virginia primary in February, some of the nation’s leading Muslim organizations nearly canceled an event at a mosque in Sterling because they could not arrange for representatives from any of the major presidential campaigns to attend. At the last minute, they succeeded in wooing surrogates from the Clinton and Obama campaigns by telling each that the other was planning to attend, Mr. Bray said.

The most frustrated surrogate of all is Minnesota Democrat Keith Ellison, the nation’s first Muslim congressman, who has seen efforts to bring the Muslim communities in greater contact with Obama stopped dead by the campaign.

It’s hard not to notice that this is where the “change” message gets run over by the still largely white mainstream Democratic party operatives who control Obama’s campaign. Again, to all those who want to complain about allegedly coalition-fragmenting “identity politics”, here are the real identity politics at work.

Muslims, like other communities of color, confront this problem: Do you trust the candidate to do right once elected or do you accede to the reality of the campaign and sit it out?

Which leads to the second thread I’ve been talking about: the fact of formerly marginalized communities becoming (re)energized in the electoral process over the last 8 years–whether the young, women, communities of color, or non-Christians.

These minorities are facing the difficulty of moving their vote from emergent to insurgent, from one that can get ignored or vaguely patronized to one that can make things happen.

Here’s the article again on the Muslim American vote:

American Muslims have experienced a political awakening in the years since Sept. 11, 2001. Before the attacks, Muslim political leadership in the United States was dominated by well-heeled South Asian and Arab immigrants, whose communities account for a majority of the nation’s Muslims. (Another 20 percent are estimated to be African-American.) The number of American Muslims remains in dispute as the Census Bureau does not collect data on religious orientation; most estimates range from 2.35 million to 6 million.

A coalition of immigrant Muslim groups endorsed George W. Bush in his 2000 campaign, only to find themselves ignored by Bush administration officials as their communities were rocked by the carrying out of the USA Patriot Act, the detention and deportation of Muslim immigrants and other security measures after Sept. 11.

As a result, Muslim organizations began mobilizing supporters across the country to register to vote and run for local offices, and political action committees started tracking registered Muslim voters. The character of Muslim political organizations also began to change.

“We moved away from political leadership primarily by doctors, lawyers and elite professionals to real savvy grass-roots operatives,” said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, a political group in Washington. “We went back to the base.”

In 2006, the Virginia Muslim Political Action Committee arranged for 53 Muslim cabdrivers to skip their shifts at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia to transport voters to the polls for the midterm election. Of an estimated 60,000 registered Muslim voters in the state, 86 percent turned out and voted overwhelmingly for Jim Webb, a Democrat running for the Senate who subsequently won the election, according to data collected by the committee.

By itself, these kinds of elections are transformative. They will help build lines of access to change for the communities. No one who is serious about gaining power can ignore the electoral process.

But what happens when groups turn out, get their candidate elected, but still can’t influence the process?

If Obama wins, this is a problem Muslim Americans, communities of color, and all those minorities who took the mantra of “hope” and “change” to heart may find themselves in by the middle of 2009.

That’s about when the new majority that the Democrats didn’t really want and certainly didn’t know how to create starts making its claims.

posted by @ 1:18 pm | 1 Comment

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

The Politics of Identity Politics

Last weekend’s Washington Post/ABC poll of white and Black voters racial attitudes revealed, well, not much at all.

The headline was “3 in 10 Americans Admit To Racial Bias”. According to this poll, when asked the useless question of whether one experiences “feelings of personal racial prejudice”, Blacks (34% of respondents) rate worse than whites (30%). (I say Black respondents are more truthful. Meanwhile, yellow and brown apparently are still not worth polling at all.)

But the piece really focused on some obscure “racial sensitivity index” whose methodology apparently couldn’t be fully disclosed for fear someone might actually call b.s. on it. According to this fantastical statistical invention, whites who have a Black friend on speed-dial, just bought a brownstone in Harlem, and have downloaded a Weezy mixtape in the last 3 years are about 20% more likely to vote for Barack Obama thank their Lil Abner cousins.

(In the fog of a rowdy Saturday night wedding reception, I watched Sunday morning pundits making big hay of this “fact”. Not to stereotype unfairly, but White Northeastern pundits shouldn’t be so self-congratulatory. If I was a Southern white, well, I guess I wouldn’t hate ’em any less than I do now. You see? I don’t stereotype unfairly.)

So after creating a thoroughly bunk way of measuring how racist white American voters actually are–the numbers go: 21% “congratulations you’re not racist”, 50% “you’re pretty much not racist or probably you are a little”, and 29% “you’re embarrassing to us so please stay home unless John King needs to interview you”–much of the poll’s conclusions are completely useless.

Or just plain tiresome. Of the racially insensitive 29%, the Post intones, “Obama has some convincing to do…” Yes, colored folk–when your boss calls you a terrorist-fist-bumping radical Muslim baby daddy, you must excuse him and tell him nicely no, he’s wrong, would he like to have a conversation about it. (Please excuse us if we spit instead.)

What was news to me was that the gaps in perceptions of race relations are as bad as they were on the eve of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

More than six in 10 African Americans now rate race relations as “not so good” or “poor,” while 53 percent of whites hold more positive views. Opinions are also divided along racial lines, though less so, on whether blacks face discrimination.


After Katrina, No Child Left Behind, Incarceration Nation, and two oil wars, it’s apparently more difficult than ever to find any consensus that race relations aren’t so great and racial discrimination still exists.

That’s not just depressing, it’s “two Americas” depressing to both of my consciousnesses.

But wait it gets worse.

To wit:

Many think Obama has the potential to transform current racial politics. Nearly six in 10 believe his candidacy will shake up the racial status quo, for better or worse.

African Americans are much more optimistic than whites on this score: Sixty percent said Obama’s candidacy will do more to help race relations, compared with 38 percent of whites.

Is it possible that Blacks–and the great, underpolled mass of Latinos and Asian Americans (who will likely vote Obama in much greater majorities than whites)–place too much faith that Obama can reverse the national course on institutional racism?

And why are whites–who say they are overwhelmingly ready to elect a “Black president” (one almost hears the caveat “if he’s qualified” being attached like a reflex)–less likely to believe that race relations will get better if Obama wins? Do they know what’s in the Kool-Aid? Or are they are sober about what may happen if Obama actually challenges white privilege?

It’s impossible not to appreciate the kind of Jackie Robinson-like line Barack Obama must walk right now in this campaign. All of this comes in the face of the growing list of white pundits who would presume to lecture Obama on just how to win white voters, from the soccer moms to the lunchpail dads. Yes, forget all you’ve heard about angry feminists and people of color and feminists of color, because here are the real identity politics at work.

For as unilluminating as this poll is, it poses a key question for Obama’s supporters and anyone concerned with racial justice, not just “feelings of racial prejudice”: how do you find and engage those who don’t want to know what change really looks like?

posted by @ 9:57 am | 1 Comment

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s "the break/s" Opens In The Bay!!!

Yerba Buena Center For The Arts
701 Mission Street
San Francisco
Thursday, June 19th, 8:00pm
Friday, June 20th, 8:00pm (with post-show discussion!)
Saturday, June 21th, 8:00pm

This is it folks!

I’ve been honored and privileged to follow my man Bamuthi around the Bay and across the country to Louisville and Minneapolis as he has brought this brilliant work to life. It’s his very personal take on hip-hop’s roots and future in the age of globalization, and it’s a masterful performance. It’s already drawn rave notices and sold-out crowds at the prestigious Humana and Spoleto Festivals this year, and at its world premiere at the Walker Art Center.

the break/s is a mixtape for the stage, and Bamuthi’s performance is blessed with live music by DJ Excess and Tommy Shepherd aka Soulati, choreography by Stacy Printz, multimedia visuals by Eli Jacobs-Fauntauzzi and David Szlasa. It was dramaturged by Brian Freeman, and directed by Michael John Garces. I really think it’s a new level of hip-hop theatre.

You might hear Bamuthi say that he was inspired by Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, but the truth is that large portions of my book were inspired by his lyricality and vision. In fact, my upcoming book project was catalyzed by his trilogy of plays–Word Becomes Flesh, Scourge, and now, the break/s, as you’ll see…!

If you’re in the Bay, you get three chances to see it this weekend on Bamuthi’s home turf. Click above or here to get tickets before it sells out. After that, it’s on to the Kennedy Center in D.C. and the Skirball in NYC and beyond…

Here’s what they’re already saying…

“Mr. Joseph is a naturally captivating dancer, moving with transfixing grace at any number of speeds. The performance is gloriously eloquent. . .”
–The New York Times

“Marc Bamuthi Joseph’s world premiere the break/s, a “mixtape for the stage” as the subtitle describes it, is an impressive extension of hip-hop as an art form. Wheeling through speech, rhythmic spoken word, dance, beat-box, and mixed beats and mixed film, is a story at once personal and universal, a story about identity, race, and love—an important story for our time.”
Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine

“…many have written about it. But I’ve never seen the paradox of double consciousness expressed in theatrical form the way that Marc Bamuthi Joseph did with the break/s, which ended a mere three-show run at the Spoleto Festival USA over the weekend. Like Amistad, it cut to the quick of the American soul. But unlike Amistad, it’s fresher and far more touching.”
Charleston City Paper

+ KQED’s Spark interview (video)

+ Smithsonian Magazine Innovators (article)

+ Youth Speaks homepage

posted by @ 3:19 pm | 1 Comment

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

2G2K Circus Returns! :: Talking Michelle + Affirmative Action

Our man in Brooklyn Ferentz LaFargue is back, after forswearing these crazy elections as bad for his health. Nope, Fox’s “Baby Mama” drama has pulled him off the fence.

He writes:

…Fox is not a news network, the only difference between them and The Daily Show is that most people, or rather most people that I know, don’t find their sense of humor funny. It’s one thing to poke fun at racism and xenophobia like Colbert and Stewart sometimes do, but it’s completely something else to perpetually peddle racist and xenophobic viewpoints.

Isn’t it funny–wrong word hmm–that their actual attempt at a humor show failed so miserably? Kinda like the Democrats for most of the past three decades. When you get a choice between fake humor and faker humor, you choose the fake.

While we’re on the topic of Michelle, Jalylah pointed out Linda Hirshman’s stupefyingly bad reading, as in so bad it seems deliberate, of Kimberle Crenshaw’s idea of intersectionality. Jalylah and others see Hirshman as trying to redefine feminism as a privileged white women’s thing, so they don’t find it suprising that Hirshman and others have had nothing to say about about the Don Imusing of Michelle Obama.

This election has been fascinating in the way it’s revived all of the passionate debates of the 90s around identity. So the affirmative action debate is back like neon breakers’ jackets.

A few weeks back there was an article on Obama and race in which the author–let’s just say his background makes him likely part of the Lieberman constituency–gratuitously called on Obama to completely disavow affirmative action as a way of winning the white vote. He won’t need to, polls show him doing exactly what he needs to do to win the election. (See the post below…) But I don’t doubt Ward Connerly’s efforts to eradicate affirmative action in Colorado, Nebraska, Arizona and Missouri (swing states all with the exception of Nebraska…yes, even Arizona) will keep the issue live going into November…

posted by @ 8:09 am | 1 Comment

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Does McCain Have A Chance?

Sure, it’s only June. We’re only halfway through the 3rd quarter. But things don’t look good for the senator from Arizona.

Obama is consolidating. He hired Clinton’s former campaign chief and got Al Gore to endorse him yesterday. McCain is out on the stump fighting off comparisons to George W. Bush.

The latest poll shows Obama winning the election 49% to 45%.

Previous polls had Obama leading McCain amongst all the groups Hillary Clinton warned he might be soft in–women, Hispanics, Catholics, working-class voters. This latest poll confirms some of those numbers.

Obama leads among men by 7 points and women by 6. True, he trails McCain among whites overall by 12 points, but Kerry lost by 25 and Gore lost by 24.

Historians–people who get paid to think about this stuff for a living–don’t rate McCain’s chances at all. Look at who he gets compared to–Adlai Stevenson in 1952, Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Jimmy Carter in 1980, folks who just got murked at the polls.

McCain is ahead 20 points among married white women, and splits the independents. But independents are clearly against the war, and feminists are solidly supporting Obama. Obama’s “50-state strategy” is aimed at winning over folks on the fence with old-school community organizing-style person-to-person appeals in their neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the biggest worry for McCain is that he can’t seem to get folks excited about his candidacy. That’s a long-term problem: he won’t be able to raise the money he needs or develop a sufficient ground operation if he can’t rally his base. On the other hand, dismissed Republican candidate Ron Paul’s supporters are preparing a huge rally in Minneapolis the week that the GOP formally nominates McCain there.

Well, that should be fun.

posted by @ 7:04 am | 0 Comments

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

"Baby Mama" Drama For Michelle Obama

2008’s Imus moment went down last night.

Where else? On Fox News.

A chyron on the following clip from Fox News reads “Outraged Liberals: Stop Picking On Obama’s Baby Mama!”

Nice to be reminded of how far we’ve come in this post-racial nation from, um, “Nappy Headed Hos”.

Or maybe last week with that “Terrorist Jab” fist-bump.

Here’s the video. Check out Michelle Malkin for added irony.

I’m certain you’ll be hearing about this a lot more from my esteemed Vibe bloggers and many others–Oprah, where ya at?–but in the meantime, some questions…

Damn. If Hillary brought out the misogyny in (far too many) pundits, where are they headed with Michelle?

Will Hillary supporters so outraged by sexism they are vowing to vote for McCain come back to the fold now? Or will they, as Tim Wise wrote last week, continue to let their whiteness show?

Are those male civil rights leaders going to make any noise about this? You know who I’m talking about.

Will Fox News blame their stupidity on hip-hop?

posted by @ 8:29 am | 4 Comments

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Idle Hands :: Why The Candidates Must Focus On America’s Youth

This summer could be the worst ever for teens looking for work, according to experts. Less than one in three youths may find summer jobs.

In recent years, the youth jobless rate has soared to record highs. In cities like Chicago, three in four teens, including seven in eight Black teens, did not work in 2006. But this summer could mark the highest level of youth joblessness since the end of World War II.

The shrinking economy and rising unemployment rates are to blame, as laid-off workers compete with young people for shrinking piece of the pie. Budget cuts have led to the ending of federal, state, and city youth jobs programs.

But the biggest problem is a lack of political interest.

Earlier this year, George W. Bush and Democratic Congressional leadership killed a $1 billion proposal to create youth jobs. At the same time, the Justice Department gave a $500,000 grant to a George H.W. Bush-chaired golf program supposedly meant to stop juvenile crime.

“We need something really attractive to engage the gangs and the street kids,” the Justice Department’s administrator was quoted as saying. “Golf is the hook.”

Dozens of other effective programs were denied. Many grants were disbursed via affirmative action for friends of the administration, the domestic equivalent of handing out no-bid work to firms for “Iraqi reconstruction”.

It was still more proof that politicians have neither a clue nor a care as to how to really address the needs of young Americans.

The team at Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies has been trying to call attention to the historic rise in youth joblessless. But in a recent shocking, but sadly not-yet-influential report, they posed the question right in the title: “Does Anybody Care?” The issue has not been raised in any of the presidential debates.

But the Center’s researchers say the developing trend represents nothing less than “the collapse of the teen job market”. They sketch the problem in starkest terms for youth of color. Even the poorest white teens are more likely to find work than the wealthiest Black teens. Wealthy white teens are two and a half times more likely to be employed than the poorest Black teens, whose employment rate was merely 18.9% last summer.

They write, “Low income, Black and Hispanic teens face the equivalent of a Great Depression.”

Bob Herbert from the New York Times outlined the consequences in a recent editorial:

There are four million or more of these so-called disconnected youths across the country. They hang out on street corners in cities large and small — and increasingly in suburban and rural areas.

If you ask how they survive from day to day, the most likely response is: “I hustle,” which could mean anything from giving haircuts in a basement to washing a neighbor’s car to running the occasional errand.

Or it could mean petty thievery or drug dealing or prostitution or worse.

To the hip-hop generation–and the authorities charged with containing it–this is all hardly news.

Violent crime rates, which have taken disturbing leaps in some inner cities over the past few years, tend to rise during the summer. Idle hands are the devil’s tools. But this is an extreme–and simplistic–way to understand a deep problem.

Experts make an economic argument. Idled hands mean less productivity for the nation. Idled minds mean decreased competitiveness in the global economy now and in the future.

There is another argument: youths who want work and cannot find it are being sent the wrong message. Is this a country that really respects hard work if it places no value on creating work?

Indeed, what message does this nation want to send its young?

John F. Kennedy famously implored a new generation not to ask what their country could do for them, but to ask what they could do for their country. In 1963, he followed up with a wide-ranging address outlining the nation’s responsibility to its young. In it, he discussed the creation of the Peace Corps, a National Service Corps, and a youth jobs program. He said, “The future promise of any nation can be directly measured by the present prospects of its youth.”

What does it mean that, almost a half century later, young Americans face record rates of joblessness?

Since the ’60s, youth policy has less often been discussed in terms of harnessing energies, than in terms of suppressing problems. There has been a massive shift towards harsher criminal and juvenile justice policies. The stunning rise in youth joblessness is a symptom of a larger national neglect, a neglect that is interrupted only by–ironic at best, disingenuous at worst–episodes of hand-wringing over young people’s corruptibility and directionlessness. Punishment, it seems, has been the only coherent national youth policy since Kennedy.

Senator McCain, perhaps unsurprisingly, has been mostly silent on these issues, save vows to clean up the student loan mess. But even Senator Obama, who has clearly benefited by the enthusiasm of the young and who understands perhaps better than any politician youths’ skepticism toward politics, has not yet outlined a place for them in his vision of America.

He supports focusing closely on job development and student achievement in 20 impoverished areas, what he calls “Promise Neighborhoods”. More intriguingly, he backs a program of green-collar jobs for inner-city youths first pioneered by hip-hop activists in the Bay Area. But even these worthy programs are hardly more than a drop in the bucket, and don’t by themselves add up to anything close to a national youth policy.

Senator Obama knows that the creative energies of young people can never be underestimated. In his interview with Vibe last year, he noted that hip-hop is a vast make-work project, a way of harnessing and channeling vast energies of young people. (This is partly why the up-by-the-bootstraps mythology–a narrative easily twisted into a celebration of consumerism that demagogues are then quick to criticize–has become so deeply interwoven into hip-hop culture.) But how could hip-hop be enough to reverse Great Depression-sized problems?

After four decades of the politics of abandonment and containment, now is the time for the presidential candidates to recognize young Americans are more than just a vote to be courted through late-night TV, more than a wellspring of videos, posters, music, and art, more than just an enthusiastic rally crowd.

Inspiration has been good, hope has been good, but both are not good enough.

The candidates must put young America to work, and involve the rest of us in taking full measure of the future promise of our nation.

posted by @ 7:01 am | 1 Comment

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