Dems form hip hop task force to address economic, racial inequality: ‘Not just music’


Democratic members of Congress formed the “Hip Hop Power and Justice Task Force” Wednesday, meant to address economic inequality, affordable housing and racial justice concerns.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., declared the task force will use hip hop’s themes of police and judicial reform to influence legislative efforts.

“Hip hop is not just music. It’s not just an art form,” he remarked, according to WAVY. “It’s a culture with a multi-billion dollar economy. But we haven’t harnessed the power of it yet to make transformative change in legislation.”

Musical artists will be able to influence legislative activities through the task force, according to The Hill.

“Artists have held the establishment accountable for many years and during election years, many artists, many people in the community and culture, continue to not trust as it relates to what we’re doing on the hill,” Rep. Bowman reportedly noted.

Shay Lawson, policy chair for the Black Music Action Coalition, reportedly predicts the task force will produce initiatives based on ideas formulated by the genre’s artists.

“[We are] committed to utilizing the cultural capital of Black music to influence the music industry and greater society on the issues of racial justice and equity through policy, philanthropic and educational initiatives” she affirmed, according to WAVY.

READ MORE | House re-launches ‘Rock and Roll Caucus’ to highlight ‘positive impacts of music’

The news of the task force comes two days after the House announced the re-launch of its bipartisan “Congressional Rock and Roll Caucus.” The caucus, first launched in 2012, will seek to highlight the “positive impacts of music” and “the importance of cultural organizations,” such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rep. Bowman formed the “Hip Hop Power and Justice Task Force” given perceived societal support for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and the Black Lives Matter movement, according to The Hill. Opportunities to create relationships with lawmakers in anticipation of the presidential election were also reported factors.

“Election season is critical to build authentic relationships in terms of what the needs are, what the challenges are, what the struggles are and what the aspirations are,” the congressman told The Hill.

The task force will reportedly expand on “Hip Hop on the Hill,” an event which encourages artists to interact with lawmakers.

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“We want artists to constantly be talking to lawmakers about what they’re going through in their communities and what’s happening in their communities so lawmakers can understand that hip hop artists come from the most marginalized, neglected places in our country,” Rep. Bowman reportedly stated.

The evolution of hip hop’s culture is reportedly represented by the task force’s creation in the eyes of Willie Stiggers, co-chair and founder of the Black Music Action Coalition.

“What you are watching is the maturation of the culture,” Stiggers said, according to WAVY. “You are watching us come together and take something that came from nothing that came out of despair, that came out of being disenfranchised. Now you’re seeing the effects of that culture growing up.”

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