COVID-19 came back in-season as we saw many citizens take laws that were some-what relaxed not so seriously; even though many peaceful protestors were wearing masks; now the streets are empty again. This is our time to reflect and discuss what has been happening in our country; in our communities and we hope here at UBO MAG and within the non-profit of Hip-Hop Congress that you can take something from the next few stories we post and hopefully we can start making some real changes when it comes to true equality, love of our fellow human beings and deep empathy that can only come from a place of care, compassion and love.
By Gabriel Commissaris
We are mid-way through 2020 and it would be an understatement to say that it has been a difficult time for the average person living in America right now. There has been a silver lining to the uncertain times we live in which consists of a massive movement composed mainly of young people pushing very hard for social change in an era where it has become clear that the current institutions of power that run America are not working.
It has to be said that not every aspect of this movement has been positive and to not recognize that would be dishonest but that is not what we are here to discuss today. What I do want to bring to everyone’s attention is that from these protests it has become clear to me that pressing issues such as systematic racism, police violence, the prison industrial complex, historical revisionism, environmental awareness and many others that affect certain groups of people in America on a much larger scale are now being talked about and recognized on a nationwide; and in some cases global, level.
Back in ‘13 when I first started to immerse myself into the realm of politics and advocating for social change it felt like I was in the minority when it came to addressing these issues. Forward to 2020, it now feels like the rights and struggles of America’s historically persecuted communities are now at the forefront and even though there is still a lot that needs to change, progress is being made at a much faster rate.
There are many things that can be attributed to the current progress that is upon us. One would be the rise of social media platforms becoming an entity for political discourse and alternative news. This is part of what allowed Black Lives Matter to become such a prominent voice and for the Native activists at Standing Rock to gain so much attention due to the platform being used as a means for sharing videos and other content that the mainstream media would not cover. The internet and access we all have to our phones and social media have been used as a platform to organize and plan events where otherwise wouldn’t have occurred even 15-years-ago.
The election of Donald Trump for President in ‘16 also played a big role as he brought out the fanatics on both sides of the political spectrum which allowed more and more common individuals to become aware of the deep-rooted issues surrounding America as a nation and culture. The most important aspect of what created this movement however are the many artists, educators and activists who have been putting in hard work for years to bring about fundamental change to the issues listed above and this current movement is a result of that work paying off.
For many years these individuals have been out in the streets, in the schools and detention facilities among many other places shifting paradigms in how we think about social and political structures in America while giving a voice to those who have been shunned by society, through music (HipHop being a prominent form and an American sub-culture), critical thinking, literacy, connecting with the natural world, an enhanced view of history and cultures in America, entrepreneurial skills and a variety of other things.
The individuals who have become aware over the years while creating powerful, positive progress are giving us the tools we need to succeed in this revolution so we the generation that is at the forefront of these issues need to make sure we continue to utilize these tools and knowledge that has been gifted to us to make these changes a reality.
Gabriel Commissaris is connected within educational-based organizations based around Hip-Hop and affiliated with Hip-Hop Congress for many years. He has worked with Rahman Jamaal who is a National and Founding member of HHC. Commissaris has recorded a few Hip-Hop singles and has worked with the Metropolitan Family Services in Portland, OR as an educator before and during these times of COVID19.
“This is a very crucial time in our country and it felt like a good time to reflect on what’s been happening and for others to get some inspiration from [this effort].” Commissaris shares.
Commissaris is gathering a list of business affected by or caught in the ‘cross-fires’ of the recent protests. Please check out this Google Doc and add your business to the list if you have also been affected
If you are interested in contributing to UBO MAG about this subject or any other subjects that pertain to music, art and culture please email us your query letter/story and/or your resume and up to three writing samples to firstname.lastname@example.org