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National Youth Summit To Engage Activism

Posted on July 13, 2006 by


On August 12th, 2006, youth from across the country will gather in Naples, Florida to protest the glorification of violence and immorality in hip hop. The event is titled the National Youth Summit, and is being produced by the non-profit organization TanzAmer Incorporated, and "The Cipher Show." The event will be
televised live, and showcase performances by hip hop artists ages 13-18.

The theme of this year's National Youth Summit is, "Hip hop In Progress: Changing the Face of Hip Hop." The location of Naples, Florida was picked in accordance with the organizer's goal to take kids away from the hustle and bustle of the inner city, and bring them to a safe, and tropical area. Along with the live performances, the summit will also feature discussions targeting the glorification and glamorization of violence and immorality in hip hop.

Steven Jennings, a producer for "The Cipher Show," recognizes the power of activism within hip hop, and hopes to utilize that power. "Hip hop activism normally addresses issues like voting, equality and educational reform, but it rarely addresses the fact that most lyrics in today's hip hop music continue to promote moral degeneration, misogyny, murder, drug dealing and other crimes. If hip hop music started promoting having sex with minors, I wonder if the lyrics would shock anyone?"

Jennings feels that in some cases hip hop lyrics go too far, and has contemplated the long-term effects of such lyrics. He said, "If one were to judge by record sales, it would appear that society may feel drugs and murder in hip hop music is okay, but I wonder if talk of statutory rape would cause a public uproar? I'm pretty sure it would, and this is a double standard. In my opinion, rather than sexual abuse, today's rap music is moral and intellectual abuse, which may result in future criminal activity in youth. Also note that many of the murders and drug sales
promoted by hip hop music occur in the ghetto."

Thus, Jennings wants to use the summit as an opportunity to give At-risk youth a chance to openly and honestly express themselves in a non-threatening environment.
He also wants to highlight the positive messages that exist within hip hop, and also show how hip hop can contribute a healthy self-image.

Jennings wants to show the way in which youth absorb hip hop lyrics, and how those lyrics interact with other negative activities that kids can become trapped in. As violence and immorality are glamorized, kids are able to achieve a false admiration for such behavior without fully realizing the consequences of such actions.

Jennings adds, "Many hip-hop artists compare their discussions of sex, drugs and violence to movies and television. We disagree, in that rap artists do not represent themselves as actors and pride themselves in telling the truth about their criminal backgrounds. Thus, we find these factual verbal accounts to be a glorification of crime. We must clear up this inconsistency for today's youth."

Volunteers, participants, as well as media outlets willing to televise this event are still needed. If you would like to get involved or learn more please visit

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