As 2009 brought forth the inauguration of America’s first African-American President, Barack Obama has adamantly insisted that the topic of race is vital to our societal progression. With that in mind, Hip Hop activist Bakari Kitwana and Harvard-based think tank The James Project are looking to keep the discussion poignant with a nation-wide town hall tour.
Entitled Rap Sessions, the 10-day tour invites audience members and once-onlookers alike to join the debate on whether or not America has become a “post-racial” country. Panelists of the tour include MC Serch, NAACP magazine editor Jabari Asim, and The Hip-Hop Wars author Tricia Rose.
Kitwana, a former editor of The Source and co-founder of the National Hip-Hop Political Convention, gave a distinguishing concept behind the creation of Rap Sessions. “Two-thirds of young voters 18-29 [years oold] voted for Barack Obama, who called for national discussions on race during the 2008 presidential campaign.” While these statistics sound promising, he added, “This is the same generation that legitimized the n-word in mainstream pop culture and everyday use. The goal of these discussions is to help the nation, and young people in particular, think through these complexities.”
While generation X has a high stake in how the country proceeds as a multi-racial society, Kitwana also sees the baby-boomer generations hand in this debate. “We now have two generations of Americans who have lived their entire lives in the post-segregation era. For some racial division is a thing of the past, for others having a mixed race president on its own doesn’t bridge the racial divide.”
The tour, which has already been to Little Rock, Arkansas and Johnson City, Tennessee, will continue throughout this month until late April. Then in May, Rap Sessions will take its seminar discussion across the Atlantic Ocean for two stops in Rome and Milan, Italy.