Friday, March 1, 2013

Black History 101 with Professor Griff (Malcolm X & Hip Hop)

     On February 25, 2013 in the ARMAH at 5 pm the legendary rapper and Rock N’ Roll hall of fame inductee from the group Public Enemy was being welcomed to the stage he instantly caught everyone’s attention. By just a few words “even though it is black history month I want EVERYONE to feel welcome to participate, ask questions and interact with me”. Griff began his speech by acknowledging the individuals at FSU that made this opportunity possible and his dear friend Khalid El-Hakim. Earlier in the day Hakim who was in charge of the black history month 101 mobile museum shared artifacts with anyone who stopped by to view the museum and stated facts to every question that was asked. Griff gave us a look into Hakim’s life as he described him as being the best person he’s met in all of his years.

     He shared that Hakim loves to collect artifacts pertaining to black history and sharing his history with anyone that wants to know. Being a middle school teacher he makes it his mission to inform his students about black history every day. Now shifting gears, Griff brought us into his life as a rapper and excellent motivational speaker. He started his speech off with “Act like it’s impossible to fail” and told us to always remember that even if that’s the only thing you’ll take away from this seminar. Accompanied by a power point he used slide shows to break every bit of information down so that the individuals in the audience could understand whether you were white, black, Hispanic or Asian it did not matter he wanted everyone to walk away feeling informed and confident. He stated that "What will people say about you? What will your legacy look and sound like?" Using that as a Segway to the topic of Malcolm X he began to describe Malcolm X as if he were his brother or a very close friend.

     “Malcolm X was a strong brother that endured a lot of pain, criticism, and hate but the legacy he left is impeccable”. X always reminded black people to love each other and fight for your rights. In a video excerpt that Professor Griff showed the audience you see Malcolm X empowering a group of black people asking “Who taught you to hate yourself? Who told you to not like the color of your skin or the texture of your hair?” That’s the kind of man who I grew up to admire professor Griff added. Growing up in the 1960’s where people like Angela Davis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and many other black powerful individuals that paved the way for us today would not believe the recognition they will forever receive. Griff described the Civil Rights era to be something that should and will not be forgotten.

     Admiring everyone before him and walking in their footsteps he joined the group Public Enemy to express their views on life and what was going on in the world. With songs like “Fight the Power” and “Bring the Noise” the sounds of “Hip Hop” (meaning higher infinite power healing our people) was taking the world by storm. But as he began to talk about the music of this generation he took a long pause and shook his head. The music of this generation is nothing compared to the music back then. Showing slides of current rappers such as Soulja Boy, Bow Wow and Lil Wayne he gave an example of how derogatory and Ignorant Lil Wayne is.

     In a recent song one of Lil Wayne’s verses stated “Beat the p***y up like Emmitt Till”. How could someone who is known around the world and looked up to by younger people say something so ignorant? If you are going to be a rapper you must know your history. When history is not studied it tends to repeat itself. As Griff was closing out he showed one last slide and told us to interpret it. The slide consisted of a white male dressed in KKK attire with a knife on the table playing chess using white pieces and a black male dressed in hood attire with a gun on the table controlling the black pieces in the game.

      He opened the floor up for interpretations. The first interpretation given by Tiffany was there is a mutual fear the second given by Alicia, there’s a war between two cultures and the white people are always in control and the last interpretation given by Zach was that both will suffer a loss. Shortly after professor Griff gave his own interpretation of the picture and said that black people are always the target and will be the target if we do not learn how to respect ourselves and stop the violence. In his closing remarks professor Griff gave us a few things to remember. Firstly, find what your purpose in life is, secondly, always act like it’s impossible to fail and thirdly, spread the love around and encourage one another. Walking off the stage professor Griff threw up the peace sign and the fist of power.

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