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Hip-Hop Can't Avoid History

October 05, 2002

Todd Boyd and his Sept. 30 commentary, "History, Hip-Hop Part Ways in 'Barbershop,' " may have provided a wake-up call for civil rights-era folks like me. He tells us that the members of the younger generation of African Americans not only prefer a different type of music from that of their older siblings and parents but also avoid assimilation, value entertainers such as Tupac Shakur over Martin Luther King Jr. and are uninterested in politics.

It's painful to come face to face with this lowering of values. It's important for diverse people to keep working at understanding one another and coming together to share ideas and friendship. We'll never have a healthy society until it's common for people of all backgrounds to mix.

Perhaps one of the influences of hip-hop is that African Americans have given up on the rest of us; I hope not. There are many non-African Americans who respect black people and want friendship with them.

I'm going to read Boyd's book, but I'm also going to hold out the hope that as these young African Americans mature, their ideas will evolve and they will realize the importance of black heroes, politics and diversity.

Rebecca Rona

Founder, Together

Los Angeles


Boyd, though his heart seems to be in the right place, shows a stereotypical view of what the so-called "hip-hop generation" actually is. Mr. Boyd, this generation is not made up only of inner-city youth who may put too much emphasis on the size of their bankroll.

I am a 29-year-old Latino college graduate. I too am part of the hip-hop generation, as are many other intelligent, politically inclined people who do not necessarily "have contempt for [political] institutions." Contrary to what you say, I don't see Dr. King as "simply another media image, not unlike Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods." I don't know too many people who do, either. You over-generalize when referring to my hip-hop generation. Do you really believe my generation deems Tupac or Biggie more important than King?

It seems by Boyd's tone that he only associates the hip-hop generation with the black population. The hip-hop generation consists of all races and ages--I'd say, between 12 and 35. (LL Cool J has been around since the 1980s.) The hip-hop generation, while consisting of inner-city youth and, yes, some ignorant people, also consists of doctors, lawyers, police officers and many other contributing members of society.

Why attribute comments in the movie "Barbershop" to the hip-hop generation? The comments were made by a fictional character. The movie is entertainment for entertainment's sake, just like hip-hop. Rappers make music to make money. Don't take their lyrics so seriously. What they rap about is not necessarily the way they think--just ask Eminem.

Hector Reyes



Out of all the different ethnicities in the world, I would think that African Americans would be the most likely to have a sense of respect for their history and historic leaders. After all the hatred and slavery they had to fight their way through to move up from being three-fifths of a person to count as a whole person, I believe leaders such as King and Malcolm X deserve more honor from their people than they are getting. No one else is going to remember them and what they did if even African Americans don't remember them.

No matter how much fame or money you are going to receive from making a movie, it is not worth putting down your historic leaders in the process.

There's a line that should not be crossed just to put a couple of extra dollars in your pocket. Once you start forgetting and putting down your own history, you are allowing others to do it also.

Harout Bursalyan

North Hollywood

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