Letters

RAP-ARATIONS

Adamma Ince's cover article "Why the Slave Reparations Movement Has Ignored the Hip-Hop Generation" (May 28) prompted an unusual amount of reader mail. Some of the letters follow.

Adamma Ince's article was timely, sad, and true. As Stevie Wonder wrote in his song "You Haven't Done Nothin' ": "We are amazed but not amused by all the things you say that you'll do. . . . " I am not amused, or surprised, that many of our people are oblivious to reparations. I see it and deal with it every day.

We, as a people, have a lot of work to do. In order to get younger people to understand the reparations movement, we must resort to guerrilla tactics. We can't go to a lot of our brothers and sisters in Brooks Brothers suits; we have to rap to them on their level. I work with kids at risk, and I challenge them in every aspect of their lives, but it is not an easy battle. I have to contend with lack of pride, low self-worth, and poor education, as well as the self-gratifying, self-centered impressions with which the media hypnotizes our youth daily.

Steve Driffin
New Haven, Connecticut


I never thought I would see the day when the lessons I learned in my politically radical upbringing would cause me to so disagree with a movement spawned by my own people. With reference to Adamma Ince's article, one need look no further than the responses of the people the author spoke to on the street to see that the hip-hop generation is brain-dead. I'm just a couple of years removed from the demographic that Ms. Ince references, and I loved hip-hop in the early days. But as the artists became younger and more removed from any sense of a black nationalistic struggle, the music and its listeners pulled the collective cloak of ignorance over their heads.

These people will never have a coherent opinion on a matter as serious as reparations. Furthermore, the author is playing a dangerous game by resorting to classism to conceal blatant ignorance. I know that professional blacks are known for their aversion to the 'hood and causes that jeopardize their status, but Ms. Ince should keep in mind that the audience she speaks of has access to all types of information that previous generations never had. She would have been hard-pressed to get the same type of vapid responses from their marching, beaten, dog-attacked grandparents in the '60s. Back then the ghetto was where you lived, not what defined you.

Doug Hoggs
Durham, North Carolina


As a Filipino, after reading Adamma Ince's article "Why the Slave Reparations Movement Has Ignored the Hip-Hop Generation," I'm surprised to find out that I have more knowledge about reparations than many in the black community.

In Kwame Ture's book Black Power, he states that there are two types of racism: the outright and the subliminal. In the politically correct world in which we live, a politician can kill his career by saying something racist—yet when he rejects a bill providing government funding for low-income housing, there is little coverage. Of course some people are aware, but not enough.

Underground hip-hop listeners get the message through groups such as Dead Prez, who dare to reveal the devilish actions of the American system, but the typical Jay-Z listener doesn't get it. To me, Russell Simmons's donating money to the effort seems more like charity than wholehearted dedication. Rapper Nas, in his song "One Mic," tells us: "The time is Now!"—but I don't see him picketing. What is needed is action.

It comes down to this: It is the responsibility of artists to set an example for the youth. Instead of encouraging young people to buy another throwback jersey and matching outfit, they should holla at the system that thinks that putting people in chains can be forgotten.

Jason Hortillas
Piscataway, New Jersey


Don't blame black lawyers and intellectuals for the ignorance of some on the reparations issue. Blame the sociopolitical lightweights like Russell Simmons, P-Diddy, and Jay-Z, who instead of discovering the next Chuck D, KRS-One, or Paris, promote performers (as opposed to artists) who disrespect black women and worship material possessions!

The average black teenager in Bedford-Stuyvesant can memorize the words to every rap song in BET's Uptown Top 20 Countdown in two afternoons! How come the same teenagers and other young people cannot process reparations information covered ad nauseam on BET's nightly newscasts and Lead Story program?

Derek Zimmerman
Brooklyn


Thank you for Adamma Ince's article. To this 51-year-old African American woman, these whispers of a reparations movement have been growing since 1990. Thank goodness it is getting more public attention. It is good to be informed that the "masses" are unaware of the issue, and that few people read for information. However, the media have been effective in communicating other values, information, and beliefs about black people. Why shouldn't the promoters of "reparations" use the same outlets? There is no magic formula to correct hundreds of years of destruction. So let us strategize by holding forums, publishing articles, and using music videos, ads, and Internet communication. Let us work together and support each other.

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