Colored Conversations: The CBCF Annual Legislative Conference

BY: KIARRA DELOUIS

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) is a policy conference centered on issues that impact black communities worldwide. Leaders, legislators and citizens participate in workshops and dialogues that provide knowledge about the past and present issues impacting African Americans in an effort to strategize for an improved future.

This year’s Congressional Black Caucus was hosted at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. from September 12-16. Topics included but were not limited to: economic development, civil and social justice, public health and education issues.

More than 9,000 people attend 70 public policy forums— The Blackprint team chose to attend the discussion of Hip Hop and Politics, presented by Indiana’s Congressman André Carson and led by Hip Hop Caucus’ President/CEO Reverend Yearwood.

The panel featured: Co-President of Women’s March, Tamika D. Mallory; Rapper and Actor Lord Jamar, Emcee and Radio Personality Monie Love, Raptivist Mysonne and Emcee, Actor and Producer Hakeem Green. Each of the panelists shared thought provoking facts and opinions.

The audience members were involved in this experience and had a chance to ask questions, receive signatures, and network at the end. Special thank you to TC, Rev. Yearwood and Congressman André Carson.

Rev. Yearwood spoke with urgency, highlighting that for many, these conversations are about life or death. He used Hurricane Florence as a current and relevant example.

“While we have been here, there are a number of people in North Carolina drowning and losing their homes today,” said Rev. Yearwood.

Climate change and environmental justice is increasingly becoming one of many concerns in our communities. “As we’re meeting, other folks are meeting as well,” he stated. “There are a lot of conversations happening at the same time.”

Rev. Yearwood asked the panelists, “If you could change one policy to affect our people, so by the morning it would go into effect, what would it be?”. In response, Lord Jamar said “A policy that eradicates poverty for all people”.

Jamar believes that when we think about healthcare and miseducation especially in our community, it puts us at a disadvantage. “It’s the root of it all and everything is the symptom of that cancer,” said Jamar.

Tamika rebuttals that policies related to women’s reproductive health should be controlled by women and women only. “No man should be able to even sit in a room with us during these conversations,” said Mallory.

Congressman André Carson’s answer was free education. Carson believes the “insurmountable debt” younger generations are going to have to pay until retirement are unexpectable when considering the financial inequalities that exist in society.

Monie Love describes ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws as being too broad. “It scares the living everything out of me… It’s a huge license for ‘act like a complete maniac,” stated Love.

Rev. Yearwood posed the question, “If you had the power to change something within the culture and history of hip hop, what would you do?”

Mysonne says that there should be an equal playing field. “Hip hop at the end of the day is like everything else, it’s about preference. People should be able to choose between negativity or positivity. I don’t like how one genre or sound has to be promoted. If I was giving that same push [to opportunities related to radio, performing, etc.], I’d win,” said Mysonne.

“Put me on the same stage with any rappers talking about molly, percocets, lean… people gonna choose authenticity over lies any day,” said Mysonne, “I want the opportunity to prove”.

Monie Love added on how streaming services are inaccurate representations of ‘fanship’.  “There was a time when you, you, and you would leave the house with five dollars and you would purchase who you appreciate. Can anybody spell vinyl anymore?”

She says that nowadays, people appear bigger than they really are. “I listened to a song for two seconds… It was hot garbage and it counts as a stream. It is an unfair system,” said Love.

“There are instructions for fanatical fans to blow this thing. Turn the song on, turn volume down, and let the song play on repeat,” she added.

Lord Jamar says it takes one stream to equal one album sale. If he had the power to do so, he would remove all outside influences from hip hop as their control has caused an organic artform into a corporate industry.

“They didn't want us to have anything at all. They took music from schools to try to leave us with nothing. We took a turn table and turned it into an instrument,” said Lord Jamar.

Hakeem Green shared that he had read in an article that there are more police officers than guidance counselors. This fact proves why leadership mentorship, and education is so vital in the lives of the youth that are indeed the future.

Unity within community is necessary when considering its strategic enemy.

“They planned to not only kill you but destroy your legacy. They’re gonna try to water it down and tell us MLK just had a dream, Malcolm X was a violent person… It’s like we are all being chained together in a jail cell and I’m not gonna cut my foot off. We gotta figure out how to run away together,” said Mysonne.

Panels like this are an eye opener to how far the Black community has lived under such unpredictable predicaments; however, there is still work left to do. Moving with purpose will be essential throughout this progression. We are all forever learning.

"I realized the mistake I made was believing in everybody else but myself,” said Hakeem Green.

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