Tuesday, October 14, 2008
"The Tipping Point" :: An Excerpt From My Vibe Cover Story

Here it is:

“Tonight Freedom Rings!”

Reverend Bernice A. King, the youngest daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., told the crowd on August 28, echoing her father’s epochal “I Have a Dream” speech given 45 years before. And now the flocks gathered at Denver’s Invesco Field at Mile High stadium would witness a giant step toward that dream’s realization in the historic nomination of Barack Obama. “This is one of the nation’s greatest defining moments,” she told the roaring audience.

The 85,000-plus people who gathered to hear Barack Obama accept his nomination as the Democratic Party’s first black presidential candidate were a rippling, multihued cloth of humanity—people of all faiths, colors, and generations in rapt anticipation, shedding tears of joy as the sun set over the snow- capped Rockies. But it was more than just a powerful, emotional gathering. It was the outline of a new American majority.

Backstage, as The Black Eyed Peas leader William “will.i.am” Adams prepared to step onstage to perform “Yes We Can” with John Legend and the Agape Choir—a song that, like the candidate it celebrated, seemed to emerge from nowhere to sound a note of idealism in a time of cynicism and strife—he was thinking about his old neighborhood.

In the projects where he was raised—the two-story Estrada Courts in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles—there’s a famous mural of Che Guevara pointing straight at you like Uncle Sam. The graffiti-style words next to Che read WE ARE NOT A MINORITY!! In Obama, Will saw a candidate who reflected his reality. “Obama is probably the first mirror of America,” he said. “The presidents we’ve had before, they’re still portraits that were painted a long time ago.”

People of color are now a majority in forerunner states like California, Texas, New Mexico, and Hawaii. More than two in five Americans under the age of 18 are nonwhite. Census data project that the United States could become majority-minority by 2042, a full eight years earlier than previously expected.

Thanks to hip hop, American popular culture has been thoroughly, to coin a word, colorized. These are all signs that we may be in the middle of an era of expansive racial change. For some, these signs point to fear. For us, they point to hope.

Rewind back to the bitter cold of this past January, when Iowans under the age of 25 delivered Obama’s margin of victory in that first caucus, jump-starting his historic march to the Democratic nomination. In the 14 most competitive states, young people made up more than half of the 3 million new registered voters. Through the primary season, young voters turned out at almost twice the rate they did in 2000.

Young people, urbanites, progressives, and people of color have been the driving force behind Obama’s presidential run. “Barack Obama owes his nomination, in large part, to the strength of those voters,” says BET News analyst Keli Goff, author of Party Crashing: HowThe Hip-Hop Generation Declared Political Independence (Basic, 2008), “and the strength of people underestimating those voters.”

Forty years have passed since Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy fell to bullets. In 1968, Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon and American Independent Party candidate George Wallace won 57 percent of the electorate by campaigning for the so- called “Silent Majority,” stirring a white backlash against “student radicals” and “angry negroes.” Since that time, racism and generational fear have been a dependable, winning electoral strategy.

Politicos parsed the “Silent Majority” into demographic slivers to more deeply exploit those fears, a process that continues in coded stereotypes like “hockey moms” and “hard- working Americans.” kind of politics that abandoned and contained inner-city youths. In 1992, Pat Buchanan gave the backlash a new name: “cultural war.” Right-wingers went after the hip hop genera- tion in everything from censorship to policing. Would Bill Clinton have won without his Sister Souljah moment? (Google it.)

Get more at Vibe's Politics page.

posted by Zentronix @ 11:32 AM   0 comments links to this post


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link


Previous posts
V Is For Victorino
Q+A :: De La Soul On Whether Obama Can Deliver
Cey Adams & Bill Adler's Book On Hip-Hop Art & Des...
Q + A :: Bun B On Why He Registered To Vote
The Reveal + Register To Vote TODAY
Musical Interlude :: Z-Trip's Obama Mix
Q+A :: Tom Morello On Obama, Race & The War
At Hip-Hop's Birthplace: Hope For The Best, Prepar...
1520 Sedgwick Cleared To Be Sold
Panic, Paralysis, Protests, and Presidents

select * from pages where handle = "BlogLinks" #content#

June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009

Email list

Add me to the Can't Stop Won't Stop email list, an irregular update of what's new in our world: