Yesterday (May 6), NBA star Baron Davis and others traveled to Washington DC to screen the film Crips & Bloods: Made In America to members of US Congress. Davis was a producer of the film, airing on PBS, and available for DVD sale by Verso Entertainment.
Directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta (Riding Giants and Dogtown and Z-Boys), the film chronicles the migration of African Americans to California in the post-World War II era, through prosperity, to the economic and social challenges that led to the surgence of neighborhood organizations, which would become The Crips and The Bloods. The film is narrated by Forest Whitaker, and also produced by Beef series creator QDIII, along with Davis.
The Los Angeles Clippers star, who frequently associates with Hip Hop artists such as The Game [click to read], told HipHopDX earlier this week about the importance of presenting his film before Congress. "If this kind violence were happening in the Pacific Palisades or Beverly Hills, you can believe the resources necessary to change things would have been brought fourth. But it's almost as if because its in the inner-city, the cycle is allowed to persist. It's my sincere hope that this film will bring awareness to the problems, and shows members of Congress what is really needed to make a change. Incarceration, or the threat of incarceration, is not a solution to the violence. If that were the case, gang-related crimes would be non-existent. We need to cure this problem at its core by providing funding and resources that give these individuals alternatives and opportunities that allow them to be positive, contributing members of their community. We need these kids to see that there is hope, and another way to live a successful life."
The film closely analyzes the increased prison construction rate in California, as well as statistics about lack of male role models readily available to urban youth today, due to death and incarceration.
Davis stressed the importance of this film to the Hip Hop generation, who has perhaps been delivered mixed messages about gangs, their history and the lifestyle associated with the culture. "As far as the Hip Hop generation is concerned, I want us to realize the impact we can have if we decide to do something positive for the places where we grew up. I think overall, we have made great strides in terms of providing positive opportunities for people to choose something other than gang life, but it;s up to all of us to stay involved and help bring awareness and solutions to these problems. We can't turn a blind-eye to our community, we must work together to ensure these kids have more opportunities than we had growing up."
He continued, "If there is one thing I've learned through the process of making this film and through the course of my life is that we have to stay committed to the change we want for ourselves and our communities. Change does not happen overnight, especially when you're trying to undo years of problems. But we must practice what we preach, and all work hard to make improvements within ourselves and for the community around us."
Hip Hop fans are encouraged to watch this film. While testimony in the film comes from rappers including Flipside from O.F.T.B. and Chan from Doggy's Angels, Davis joined forces with two of Hip Hop's biggest tastemaker deejays, Don Cannon [click to read] and DJ Skee [click to read], to release a mixtape in conjunction with the film.
The specially-made songs touching on the film's subject-matter are from artists ranging from Lil Wayne and David Banner, to Snoop Dogg and Kurupt, to Raekwon and Styles P. The whole tape can be heard on HipHopDX [click to listen].
The film is available to purchase [click here].
HipHopDX will keep you updated of Congress' reaction to the film screening.