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Hip-Hop Artists Stand for Human Rights

Chino XL, Rhymefest, Immortal Technique, Jasiri X (Photo by Paradise Gray)

Most of the discussion around rap music is almost always about it’s negative effects. Blog after blog of so called intellectuals rant about mainstream rap music’s bad influence on youth. I often wonder why they never mention the countless MCs all over the country and overseas using Hip-Hop music to educate, organize, and raise awareness about injustices in their communities. One organization that should be at the top of that list is The Sound Strike, founded by Rage Against the Machine’s front man Zack de la Rocha.

Sound Strike is a coalition of Artists that have committed to supporting the International Boycott of Arizona in the wake of the passage of SB 1070, a racist law that targets Latinos and subjects them to racial profiling, harassment and mass incarceration. Last Friday Sound Strike and Executive Director Javier Rodriguez organized one of the best Hip-Hop shows I’ve ever been a part of. Immortal Technique, Rhymefest, Chino Xl, and myself headlined a benefit show in Phoenix with 100% of the proceeds going to Puenteaz a youth based grassroots organization in Arizona that has a long history of fighting immigrant attacks. Hundreds of people filled the parking lot of Puenteaz’s new office creating an electric atmosphere of unity and positivity. Mariachis, fire dancers, local acts Vprolific, Grime and Olmeca and authentic food added to an incredible evening.

From AZ me, Javier, Rhymest, and Paradise the Arkitech, of the legendary rap group X-Clan, traveled to Birmingham to raise awareness of a bill even harsher than Arizona’s SB1070, Alabama’s HB56. There we met with organizers from America’s Voice  and community activist William Anderson, who made national headlines by challenging Kanye West to speak out against Alabama’s racist bill.  We heard personal stories of families who were ripped apart and children who’s parents were taken away, brutalized and dehumanized for not having a piece of paper. Incredibly it takes an average of 26 years to get American citizenship. In the mean time human beings seeking a better life can be detained, some indefinitely.

One Palestinian family was forced to watch as police stormed their home and arrested their mother, father and older brother.  They fought back tears describing how their parents and brother were shipped to 3 different detainment facilities and how since that day their family has never been the same. Members of Occupy Birmingham attended and spoke about a rally their organizing with William Anderson on December 3rd where they are planning to march on a detention facility to protest these harmful policies.  Tonight, 10 congressman lead by Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) are holding a ad hoc hearing on immigration and Alabama’s HB56 immigration law. I’m honored to be on the frontlines of the Hip-Hop community, proving we’re not only the music of the revolution but also active participants.