Community, Hip Hop, Jazz & World Aids Day 2013

I seldom use my blog or writing as a bully pulpit, but today I found myself engaged in a internal conversation that couldn’t be squelched by a mere 5 minute dialogue. I found myself fascinated by the various blogs, gossips postings, memes, instagram post, facebook status updates and other fascination with “the self” that rarely equate to anything other than narcissistic rhetoric. We have forgotten our connection to the other people in society. We must me be soo engulfed by the consumer in us that we forget the social advocate that lays dormant within us. The social advocate, you know the one that stuck up for others in the playground or pushed back in that kindergarten class when our friend was being bullied. What happen to that person? Instead we have decided that we should focus on the things that helps us elude the constant and harsh criticism of the bullies, swag. Stuff, things, bling, etc. all these items, usually inert in nature have no more power that what we actually give them. Yet, we tend to focus more on the inert things, those that are inorganic and unaware to what we call shared reality, than we do our best friends, family and even our enemies. They are our community and we are commanded to watch over them in some form or fashion during our lifetime. Its true, we should be our brother’s keeper. We are to look after each other and help one another progress. These are spiritual and ethical mandates that we are suppose to follow. When did we start being soo wrapped up in material things and forgot the living breathing organism of community. Community that wraps around us and breathes life in to us each and everyday. The dude on the block, the children playing in the park, the old people playing sentinel over our streets, and even the “ill peddlers” whom are part of the balance. Community is something that has always been part of our lives, and should remain important. Its what keeps us engaged with realizations, awareness, and generating new knowledge, understanding and meaning. 1980’s AIDS helped create, for some not all, a closer sense of community through the tragedy of the HIV virus and the AIDS epidemic, in the 1990’s it  was the crack explosion, and in the early part of the 21st century it s terrorism or as some title it, extremist actions. Art, unlike these epidemics, has more power to unite factions of people and ideas under themes and/or create schisms. 

Community 

So, what is community? Is community important and why?  I ask myself these and more questions daily about the power of human agency and its place within the connectivity of community. Merriam Webster defines Community : as a group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood), a group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc, or a group of nations. Community is truly about the connections that we make within our daily lives, and can be seen as a bigger version of family that is not constrained by the genetic ties of DNA. Community is a powerful and strong agent of information distribution as well as social interaction. Community is the organism by which we transfer all knowledge and experience within our social and physical genes. From the beginning art, more specifically music, has been a facilitator of the communicating of this important knowledge. Whether it is a nationalistic theme of melody, a musical that tells the story of a disputed group, an abstract piece by which one can infer the power of divergent thought, music has always had an conscious and subconscious power over us. It creates within in us all a response of positive or negative toward our agency. An agency for what depends on the audience and their reaction to the message. Advocacy on behalf of a group, organization or idea, is the seed placed in our psyche from the instrument of music and art. Hip Hop and Jazz music are powerful transmitters of these messages. Both of these cultural phenomenon have been important in the sharing of thoughts and spurring action toward social issues. Hip Hop and its “Your’e heading for self destruction…” in the 1990’s for the ending of domestic and gang violence in the minority community and jazz music’s appropriation of Cole Porter’s music in the 1990’s to support awareness of the AIDS epidemic.  Both genres have enjoyed roles as social advocate on the behalf of the marginalized and victimized minority. What happened?

Hip Hop

Hip Hop from its inception was a medium of the people. Party starter, and initiator of the good times. Celebration and cheers giver, the deejay and emcee have long enjoyed the position of fun time giver. The B-Boy would later help solidify the music as a agent of social change through the various forms of social advocacy that young hip hopers would engage in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. These issues would soon fall silent in the new millennia. Was AIDS cured because Magic Johnson has it at bay currently. Science would say no, but for some reason we have forgotten those that still battle today with the various forms of deadly sexually transmitted diseases as well as communicable diseases. For the most part people are still unaware of the ways that these diseases can put an end to a person’s life. Hip Hop used to be that force that helped make people aware of danger in the community. It was the clarion voice that sparked debate and created a stir among the elders and young people, whether it was a party jumpin’ off on the block of a rally to stop gun violence happening around the way. Hip Hop has always been a defender of the voiceless and the chider of the powerful. 

Jazz

Jazz as well has always been the face of the faceless. Early on in the development of what we would now call modern America jazz culture took a major role in developing the American identity. It was the soundtrack of integration, initiator of the early civil rights movement, and introducer of new ideas into the psyche of the American people. Jazz music has always been something special in regards to facing the spook that goes bump in the night. Jazz was an still is the face of the mulatto and the mix person. It is still the child of cross breeding between European, Caribbean and African cultures. It is something that could only happen here in this place and this space. It was and still is an icon of American culture. Jazz was fashion, dance, music, language and thinking. So, why doesn’t it still have the same impact that Ralph Ellison and F. Scott Fitzgerald talked about in their iconic american literary classics? Jazz is still a agent for social change….. or isn’t it?

World Aids Day (http://www.worldaidsday.org)

“World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

Around 100,000 are currently living with HIV in the UK and globally an estimated 34 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. Find out how much you know by taking our online quiz: Are you HIV aware? Test your knowledge and awareness by taking the quiz and act aware by passing the quiz on and sharing it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.

If you understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today – you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding. Click here to find out the facts.

You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness and support.

World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for NAT (National AIDS Trust) and show your support for people living with HIV. If you feel inspired to hold an event, bake sale or simply sell red ribbons,click here to get started. If you’d like to see what other events are taking place.

Although World AIDS Day is a great opportunity to get the public talking about HIV and fundraise, we need to remember the importance of raising awareness of HIV all year round. That’s why NAT has launched HIVaware— a fun, interactive website which provides all the information everyone should know about HIV. Why not use what you have learnt on World AIDS Day to Act Aware throughout the year and remember, you can fundraise at any time of year too — NAT is always here to give you suggestions and ideas.”

A Cure

The cure comes from not only a physical spaces that provides intellectual answers to societal ills like infectious/communicable  diseases but also an awareness of social injustices and issues that make the disease’s impact hard to end. Stand up and use your power in your community to make people aware through art and culture. Tell people a story through music and poetry. Bring up the difficult questions about inequalities found in community and society. Donate your funds and time to the cure. AIDS is like civil rights its easy to be interested in the cure, but there is a system in place that helps limit the scope of the treatment. Neither is something that anyone wants to every be infected by, and even fewer are interested in being associated with. The cure takes time and the battleground is main in the mind. The mind controls the body and in turn is the hardest places to create change. Art helps cure the diseased mind of shared issues that we face. Music helps greet the enemy at the gate and disarm him, her or it. So, today play your favorite hip hop, jazz, punk, soul, country, rock, etc. that talks about finding the cure and changing our outlook on this deadly disease. God bless us all as we fight to end poverty, cure cancer, AIDS, end sexism, gender bias, and racism.

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