Seattle Makes History By Opening Hip Hop Culture School

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 Umojafest P.E.A.C.E Center will be making history by opening its tentatively named Center for Hip Hop Culture, Business & Technology in the historic Central District of Seattle, Washington, this summer..

Using Hip Hop as Cultural text for Emancipatory Education

Posted by Julie C

Umojafest P.E.A.C.E Center will be making history by opening its tentatively named Center for Hip Hop Culture, Business & Technology in the historic Central District of Seattle, Washington, this summer. While this community-owned and operated Hip Hop center is the first of its kind that will serve community youth, particularly dropouts, high-risk, and those under the criminal justice supervision, it is also a continuation of the historical struggle for an African American Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in the CD that reaches decades back. It will feature a digital recording studio, computer lab, video production studio and a library/reading room. The summer school at the Center for Hip Hop will coordinate culturally enriching, entrepreneurial-based activities to address social and community development through daily, open-door element and technology workshops, study sessions, and classes. An initial glimpse at the program schedule reveals DJ and producer clubs, Young Kings and Queens Leadership Development, and class titles that range from “Music History” to “Hood Politics”. Through launching a youth-led, community-centered approach to outreach, education, and violence prevention, Umojafest P.E.A.C.E Center is putting revolutionary social change theory to practice with Hip Hop Culture.

18 year old Imani Kang, the youth committee president of UPC, is development director for the summer school at the Center for Hip Hop Culture. As a drop out, she can’t tell you the benefits of a diploma, but she can quickly break down how the social construction of knowledge through dominant culture in traditional classrooms alienates youth today. “Freshman year, I attended all my classes in the beginning, but felt like I was doing the same thing over and over again. I went to Job Corp to get my GED, and during those classes, I asked myself how relevant is this? We’re taking the same classes from 4th grade to now. I took the test, and the test is so easy, and I started asking myself, is this is all I have to do to be complete? What are they really doing to us? What are you guys really teaching me?”

Her critical reflection on oppressive education systems continued to develop through watching many of her friends get driven away from school by boredom, or from being penalized for challenging what and how things were being taught up, and give up altogether. “I know kids who dropped out and haven’t gotten their GED, haven’t done anything but kick it, sometimes work, but a lot of the time, they just stop because they think that school is the only option for learning,” Imani says. “The ones who ended up pursuing something after dropping out, it’s because they find something that they’re interested in, something that keeps them there. Some aren’t fortunate to find that. The Hip Hop Center will be one more way to get one more person there.”

Assuming the agency to reinvent education through Hip Hop culture is a powerful and strategic move toward self empowerment for today’s youth, especially for those who’ve inherently rejected the role of being passive objects in the school enterprise. “School is a closed box, they teach only what they want you to know, like closing one eye on one side. Our school is resistance to that because we want wanna keep both eyes open, we want to see everything. Our idea is for these classes to be open conversations, collaborative ideas, rather than having students be sitting and watching. We have so many volunteers and special guests that are already lined up; it’s exciting,” says Imani with a smile. For more information on how to get involved, or to show your support, email Imani Kang at mani.sue@gmail.com.

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Comments

  1. I think this is so cool. I had the extreme pleasure of meeting with Imani personally about possibly taking part in the development of this program. I feel that young people can learn so much more from a program such as this one.

  2. Peace readers, thanks for the posts and reposts, but please check out the problem side of this conversation, and more about the situation in Seattle that has spurred this community action at my blog http://www.sheepskincamo.blogspot.com. The article you want is entitled “A Broken Network Can’t Pull it Together: Why our Youth are Killing Each Other.”

    Here is an excerpt:

    Hip Hop, if we’re serious about saving young lives, it will take more than a superficial “Stop the Violence” campaign. On a policy level, the fragmented approach to serving vulnerable youth is wrong. While cities and law enforcement, states, and school districts collaborate in the identification, tracking, and targeting of these youth (through free lunch programs, test scores, and gang databases), they have shown a consistent unwillingness to apply the same collaborative efforts toward providing real solutions. We cannot tell the youth “Stop the Violence,” while relying on these agencies to help and heal them, especially not while they are closing our schools, mismanaging our youth service funding, and building a new jail.

  3. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Music ain’t never saved no one. There was always a movement and music was like the backdrop theme later on. Its never been music being the movement and then “activism” being the backdrop. I’ve been saying this for years, people, wake up! Hip-hop is Rap Music colaborated to make certain Jews a whole lot of money. Our people are just stuck on stupid. Disco lasted like three years, Motown cross-over about ten, Soul about five, Funk about three, but like being stuck on hip-hop for twenty-four years. When will you guys realize that hip-hop is only an acronym for “helping ignorant people-hurt our people”? If you want to teach our children any thing involving “education” and “life skills” teach “your” children proper penmanship and stop with the grafitti ebonics writing. Stop allowing kids to write like that in your public school classrooms.

  4. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Change comes from a people re-newing their minds. Not a people doing the same thing over and over for the past 24 years and expecting a different result. Have any one ever heard of a “Charter” school? Has anyone ever heard of a “Recreational Center”? There’s a difference. Wake up, people!!! Time to grow up and take it to the next level. HIp-hop is not – “Intelligent movement” its something white people started centuries ago with their nursery rhymes. YOu all just haven’t figured out the code. This whole “Hip-hop” thing is designed to keep our people out mainstream. They use a few fellows to mess up an entire race . Asians dance, whites make records, african americans show one another theres a short cut and prisons not so bad.

    Breaking News – Mike Tyson’s dead!!!

  5. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Change comes from a people re-newing their minds. Not a people doing the same thing over and over for the past 24 years and expecting a different result. Have any one ever heard of a “Charter” school? Has anyone ever heard of a “Recreational Center”? There’s a difference. Wake up, people!!! Time to grow up and take it to the next level. HIp-hop is not – “Intelligent movement” its something white people started centuries ago with their nursery rhymes. You all just haven’t figured out the code or got the memo.. This whole “Hip-hop” thing is designed to keep our people out mainstream. They use a few fellows to mess up an entire race . Asians dance, whites make records, african americans show one another theres a short cut and prisons not so bad.

    Breaking News – Mike Tyson’s dead!!!

  6. Robert Jr. James McClendon says:

    Career wise – Tyson’s done, but prayers go out to his family for the lost of his daughter Exodus. “We love you Mike! We know that the only way they could take the belt away from you was to incarcerate you”. Prayers going out to your family. Time to move to the next level, you all.

  7. A hip hop school sounds like the even-worse-offshoot of an already bad situation.

  8. Jayden Kalberer says:

    I am looking to get my 4yr old enrolled into hip hop classes and figured this would be the best way to find find where is the best? Thanks

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