Rosa Clemente gave the keynote address this evening at the national conference of the Hip-Hop Congress in Detroit, MI. Taking place adjacent to the U.S. Social Forum this gathering of what Clemente described as, “the only real national hip-hop political organization,” happens at yet another moment of crisis in what is the permanent moment of crisis for oppressed and exploited communities. And that which also goes by “the hip-hop community” is indeed among them.
Rosa Clemente is among only a few who are able to, with a severe relatively, speak so often and so publicly of the many issues confronted by the hip-hop community. Those issues are, of course, the issues which face us all and include political prisoners and mass incarceration. They are the struggles over poverty, police brutality, as well as, rampant and violent misogyny – to the point, as Clemente made clear tonight, that death at the hands of spouse or loved one is the third leading cause of death for women in this country. These issues include capitalism, colonialism, zionism, pan-Africanism, Puerto Rican nationalism and sound responses to the simple ridiculous claims of hip-hop’s electoral power shown in its ability to elect Obama. Clemente addressed all these and more issues in a way that young people too often are kept from and too often at the hands of the cultural expression or the loudest hip-hop spokespeople, authors and academics. Who is to define our struggle and the avenues we take to develop a future world that itself is defined by us? This was the fundamental question asked and it is a question that demands a strong and collective answer.