Who Speaks For Us: Are We Straight Outta (Conscious) Hip-Hop?

fc,550x550,white.u2

By Ebonie Johnson Cooper, Chief Millennial Officer, Friends of Ebonie

I finally went to see Straight Outta of Compton last weekend. I thought it was awesome. In fact, it’s was No. 1 at the box office for three straight weekends. #GoCube. I expected it to be pretty good, but I was not ready for how much the movie imitated present-day life.

Set in the mid-1980s to the early-1990s, Straight Outta Compton tells the musical journey of rappers, Ice Cube, Easy E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella also known as N*ggas With Attitude (N.W.A.). The group’s “started from the bottom now we’re here” story was filled with highs and lows, but I was especially intrigued by the influence police brutality, systematic racism and discrimination had on some of N.W.A.’s music. From their experiences they recorded their most famous anti-police song, “*uck the Police.” As the movie depicted scenes ranging from innocent teenagers (including N.W.A. themselves) being stopped and frisked to the Rodney King beating, I kept thinking is this set 2015 or 1986? Socially, not much has changed since the coming-of-age of NWA. Their music is just as relevant today as it was then. 

There was a scene in the movie where the group members were convinced that because the Rodney King beating was caught on video that the officers would automatically be found guilty. However, as we all know, none of those officers were found guilty. Neither were the officers in the Amadou Diallo case, Trayvon Martin case, Mike Brown case, Eric Garner case…need I go on? Why are we still fighting the same fight from the 80s and 90s? If rap music was the equivalent of social media in the 80s and 90s N.W.A. would be voices within the #BlackLivesMatter movement for sure.

After watching Straight Outta Compton, I see Ice Cube in a brand new light. I admire him for taking a stand and being the voice of his generation. I admire the courage of Easy E to speak out when the highest federal law enforcement agency in America, aka The FBI had N.W.A. on their most wanted list. N.W.A. did not back down and they did not stop. When the police in Detroit tried to intimidate them and told them not to sing “*uck the Police” at their concert they did it anyway.  They knew that their music was shedding light on what was really happening in their communities. They knew that by using music to touch their fans someone was going to hear the truth. Where is that today?

We live in a society driven by music. So much of who we are and what we do today is influenced by music. What or where would we be if more artists took an N.W.A stand? Or what would happen if those who do speak out got the same appreciation as those who exclusively rap ratchet?

I don’t really listen to today’s hip-hop music, however when I do hear a song all I hear is foolishness. There is no struggle, there is no “F the police “there is no why didn’t he get indicted.” All you hear are fake thugs trying to be real when there is truly a genocide happening to our people. Watching Straight Out of Compton convicted me. It made me think, who in our generation’s hip-hop music could be an N.W.A.? Who is our Ice Cube? I shared this post idea with a few friends, and they offered these artists as possible hip-hop revolutionaries of our time:

  1. J-Cole – For his latest album, outspoken lyrics and humble presence in the Black Lives Matter movement
  2. Kendrick Lamar – For his outspoken lyrics and his song, “Alright” which has been called the new black anthem.
  3. Janelle Monae and Wondaland– for their song “Hell You Talmbout” and social justice protests that take place before their concerts in each city

Additionally, back in January Mic News offered “These Six Rappers are the Defining Voices of #BlackLivesMatter.” Five of the six artists I’ve never heard, but that could just be me. #ImNotThatCool.

I’m not saying N.W.A. was perfect. Despite what the movie showed, I know a lot of their music was the anthesis of black power. However, in my opinion that’s the fabric of being an artist. They used their platform to the best of their ability to seek change when a change was needed. It is my sincere hope that artists with a message get the platform they deserve. And for those artists that do have a platform, they begin (or continue) to use it in a way that will not only entertain but also educate, inform and raise the level of consciousness of those who look up to them.

Hey #DC! Brunch For A Cause Is Back!

Brunch-For-A-Cause-2015-1024x1024

Hey DC! We’re a proud sponsor of A Diva State of Mind’s Brunch for a Cause!

This DC brunch series returns in June to benefit Safe Shores & Shepherd’s Table. Lifestyle blogger & stylist Keri Henderson of A Diva State of Mind, combined her love of brunch with friends and passion for giving back to the community, to create her brunch series A Diva State of Mind Presents: Brunch for a Cause in 2014. Last year she hosted two brunches that attracted over 80 attendees and raised funds for DC area non-profit organizations. This highly anticipated brunch series returns this summer!

The brunch will benefit Safe Shores – The DC Children’s Advocacy Center and Shepherd’s Table. Safe Shores is celebrating 20 years of serving child victims of abuse and is a direct service nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and working directly with child victims of sexual and physical abuse in the District of Columbia. Shepherd’s Table provides help to people who are homeless or in need by providing basic services including meals, social services, medical support, clothing and other assistance in an effective and compassionate manner.

All attendees will enjoy an afternoon of networking, a three course meal, unlimited mimosas and more! Along with purchasing a ticket, all guests will be asked to bring ONE inkind donation for EACH organization or make a monetary donation at the door.

When: Sunday, June 14, 2015

Where: M Street Bar & Grill 2033 M Street NW Washington, DC

Time: 12:30pm

Tickets: $38 | http://www.brunchforacause2015.eventbrite.com

It is Keri’s hope that each Brunch for a Cause event will become more successful than the last and collectively, individuals can raise money or collect a significant amount of in-kind donations for great organizations serving the DC community.

Keri is a lifestyle blogger and personal stylist in the DC area. She’s an advocate for community service and seeks to host events in the DC area that are fashionable, fun and focused on giving back to the community. Visit www.adivastateofmind.com for more information.

#IAMYBGB: Clemmie Perry

Clemmie PErry

 

The golf course or the green is where business deals happen. Big deals, small deals and those in between happen on the golf course. There’s a power on the course that provides the opportunity for banter, negotiation and real-time deal closing. Despite the power on the green, there is a shortage of women and definitely a shortage of women of color. Clemmie Perry, founder of Women of Color Golf and Girls on the Green T, has made it her mission to change this.

When sharing her story of learning the game Clemmie told Forbes, “It was exciting, and I was making all these new friends and contacts. It opened a whole new world for me. But I also realized when I was out on the course, I rarely saw women who looked like me out there.” She also saw the need for young girls of color to learn the game. So she started Girls on the Green T to work with girls ages 14 – 22. The girls receive weekly golf lessons as well as establish mentoring relationships and take classes in health and financial literacy. “This is a world many of these girls never even knew existed, let alone thought they could gain access to. We can be an entry way for them to see a different kind of future,” says Perry. “We’re trying to prepare them to enter into a diverse and quickly changing world.” (Forbes)

We salute Clemmie and her team on a job well done! Learn more on Clemmie Perry and her work to bring women and girls of color into the world of golf here.

Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

#IAMYBGB: Sha’Condria “Icon” Sibley

Sha'Condria Sibley

 

Sha’Condria Sibley uses her voice to inspire, activate and motivate others. She’s more than a artist, she is an artistic changemaker. In addition to rocking the mic at poetry slams in NOLA, she teaches youth about spoken word and using their voices to create change. Today we honor her and her BIG voice for making a difference in her community.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

Watch her work!

Say it Loud! I’m Young, Black & Giving Back!

Say it loud...

Last week we kicked off of our digital campaign: “I AM Young, Black and Giving Back” We could not be more excited! If you have been sleeping on this dope campaign now is the time to wake up and check out #IAMYBGB on social media.

I AM_ShowMeShoes (2)The I AM Young, Black & Giving Back is a digital campaign focused on young, black givers and the cause work they care the most about. Our goal is to recognize and applaud the work these individuals do to impact their communities. Through our platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, we will engage with some of the best and the brightest young, black givers-  that includes YOU! That’s right,  the best part of this campaign is that it involves YOU! We want to know what motivates you to give, why you give, how you give!

Often times we recognize those doing good but we fail to truly celebrate them and that is what this campaign is all about. It is not about simply taking notice that young, black philanthropists, leaders, and activists exist but we also want to honor their contributions. We know that by elevating the work you do, we not only will be inspired but other young, black givers will be inspired to give more and better than ever! So how are we going both celebrate and inspire?

So glad you asked!

We will host an information-packed twitter chat on April 14 and two young, black giver features each week through April 30!

When it comes to being young, black and giving back we never want to lose sight of the inspiration behind the phrase. We take your work and our work very seriously and want to ensure you always have a place to shine! Here’s to you!

We look forward to celebrating with you guys! Say it loud, “I am Young, Black, Giving Back …& I am proud!”

Our 2014 #GivingTuesday Top Charity Picks!

 

GT_logo

We haven’t done a Giving Tuesday Top Picks List since 2012. It seemed fitting that we make an old thing new again and help you find an organization to support today on #GivingTuesday.

What IS Giving Tuesday, you ask? We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Started in 2012 by the 92st Y and the United Nations Foundation, we now have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Who are we to deny you this opportunity to give back?!

That being said, here are a few of our faves. Go a head make it rain on ’em.

#GT_2014Web-Banner_250x250_RedAlt

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture: The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.

Black Benefactors:  A Washington, D.C – based giving circle comprised of individuals, businesses and organizations dedicated to addressing the societal ills facing the African American community in the DC region.

St. Jude Children’s Research Center: St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility. Discoveries made here have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases. With research and patient care under one roof, St. Jude is where some of today’s most gifted researchers are able to do science more quickly.

Dance Theatre of Harlem: Dance Theatre of Harlem is a leading dance institution of unparalleled global acclaim, encompassing a performing Ensemble, a leading arts education center and Dancing Through Barriers®, a national and international education and community outreach program. Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, Dance Theatre of Harlem was considered “one of ballet’s most exciting undertakings” (The New York Times, 1971). Shortly after the assassination of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitchell was inspired to start a school that would offer children — especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born — the opportunity to learn about dance and the allied arts.

First Book DC – provides new books to children in need. The DC chapter is helping to increase literacy rates in areas where poverty levels are at an all time high. Donate $10 and that equals 4 books!

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance. The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents — as well as millions more through television broadcasts.

H.O.P.E. Scholarship InitiativeThe H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Pursue Education) Scholarship Initiative was founded in 2010 by two Howard University alumni committed to serving their communities. The organization’s philanthropic efforts are geared toward rewarding deserving students with scholarships through the assistance of grassroots level fundraising and corporate sponsorships.

Epitome of Soul: Epitome of Soul, Inc. strives to partner with community organizations to equip, empower, and encourage performing arts high school and college students to strive for academic excellence and cultural growth.

African American Board Leadership Institute: The mission of the African American Board Leadership Institute is to strengthen nonprofit, public and private organizations through recruiting, preparing and placing African Americans on a broad range of governing boards.

Add your organization and a link to its donation page in the comment section below! Sharing is caring!!!!

Divine Giving to St. Jude by The Divine Nine

Final Photo: Richard Lee Snow (ALSAC, at mic); Mark S. Tillman (General President – Alpha Phi Alpha); Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson (National President – Alpha Kappa Alpha); Thomas L. Battles, Jr. (National Vice President – Kappa Alpha Psi); Antonio F. Knox, Sr. (National President – Omega Psi Phi); Ebonie Johnson Cooper (Representative – Delta Sigma Theta); Daryl Anderson (Executive Director – Phi Beta Sigma); Stacye Montez (Executive Director – Zeta Phi Beta); Bonita M. Herring (National President – Sigma Gamma Rho); Robert M. Clark, Jr. (National President – Iota Phi Theta); and Richard C. Shadyac, Jr. (President & CEO, ALSAC)
Final Photo: Richard Lee Snow (ALSAC, at mic); Mark S. Tillman (General President – Alpha Phi Alpha); Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson (National President – Alpha Kappa Alpha); Thomas L. Battles, Jr. (National Vice President – Kappa Alpha Psi); Antonio F. Knox, Sr. (National President – Omega Psi Phi); Ebonie Johnson Cooper (Representative – Delta Sigma Theta); Daryl Anderson (Executive Director – Phi Beta Sigma); Stacye Montez (Executive Director – Zeta Phi Beta); Bonita M. Herring (National President – Sigma Gamma Rho); Robert M. Clark, Jr. (National President – Iota Phi Theta); and Richard C. Shadyac, Jr. (President & CEO, ALSAC)

We don’t hear enough about the philanthropic giving of fraternal and social organizations within the black community. We know the organizations collect dues and provide local programs but they also provide financial support to causes that affect our community. These causes include education, breast cancer awareness, nutrition, HIV & AIDS prevention and yes, childhood cancer, to name a few. One such childhood cancer cause is my favorite, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

I first learned about the National Pan-Hellenic Council’s partnership with St. Jude when I visited the campus back in May. I remember being so excited to see the Kappa’s Sunday of Hope wall. As a fellow PanHell member, I felt an immediate personal connection to the hospital. I later learned that all nine of the black Greek-letter organizations have committed to supporting St. Jude year-round. To date, the organizations have collectively donated nearly $2 million to St. Jude. They have done so through various individual programs including:  Sunday of Hope, a faith-based program where churches are recruited to support St. Jude; Give thanks. Walk, an annual walkathon in over 70 markets across the country; Girls Night In, a peer-to-peer fundraising event where members host individual social gatherings; and Game Day Give Back, a peer-to-peer fundraising event where members host Super Bowl parties. Coming up on November 22, team chapters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. will walk in the St. Jude Give Thanks Walk as National Gold and Silver Level teams, respectively.

To thank the organizations, St. Jude invited members of the organization’s leadership to be recognized during the Congressional Black Caucus Weekend. The evening was amazing! St. Jude brought their Memphis hospitality to Washington, D.C. Not to mention, the National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., asked me to accept the award on her behalf, as she had to attend another event. ME?! Little ol’ me?! I humbly and graciously accepted. I think it took me about a week to get over the shock and another few days to stop welling up with happy tears. However, nothing compared to the emotion-filled presentation by St. Jude patient-celebrity Kimberlin George.

Kimberlin and I. She's so amazing!
Kimberlin and I. She’s so amazing!

Kimberlin took the stage strong and proud like the fighter she is. In 1982 she became the first person to be cured of sick cell anemia. She was cured by the doctors at St. Jude with the use of a life-saving blood transfusion to cure her Acute Myeloid Leukemia. As we all sat and listened to Kimberlin tell her story there wasn’t a dry eye in the room – including her own. She ended her remarks by reminding the NPHC organizations how important their support is and how grateful she always will be to the St. Jude community. St. Jude isn’t just a place where she was cured, it is a home away from home and the staff are like her family.

Kimberlin’s name is just one of thousands that St. Jude has saved. The research center would not be able to do the work it does without the generosity of organizations like the Divine Nine. Patients like Kayla, Khamoni andEthan may not be here were it not for the hope St. Jude gives to them and their families.

I’m proud to be a member of the Divine Nine. It makes me even prouder as a St. Jude blogger to know my sorority believes in and goes the extra mile for children who need us so much.

Dare to make a difference! Stand with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and help make a difference in the lives of children living with a devastating diagnosis. “Because the majority of St. Jude funding comes from individual contributors, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has the freedom to focus on what matters most—saving kids regardless of their financial situation.” Learn more about how you can partner with St. Jude and help fulfill founder Danny Thomas’ dream of a day when no child dies in the dawn of life.

gtw14-logo

To join a team, form a team or donate for the November 22, St. Jude Give Thanks Walk, visit givethankswalk.org

Check out highlights from the St. Jude/ CBC reception: