Blending Organizing, Hip-Hop, and Social Change in the Bronx

Group Helps Lead Saturday March Against Police Violence in the Bronx

Bronx-based Rebel Diaz never seems to tire. Constantly producing, touring, or participating in various levels of active community involvement in both the South Bronx and around the world, the hip-hop duo's energy and political commitment is unavoidably inspiring.

As well as releasing what was probably the first songon on the 2008 bail-out (see video above), the group also posted one of the first constructive race/class critiques of what at the time was a young occupation of Zuccotti Park back in September. "We left with mad questions," they wrote on their website at the time. "Where was the hood? Where was the poorest congressional district in the USA, from The South Bronx at? Like we say in Hip Hop, where Brooklyn at?"

After asking touch questions to the young movement, and pointing out the whiteness and youngness of the crowd, the piece analyzes OWS and the movements it invoked in global, long-term context. "All in all the questions remain, yet with time and reflection , we refuse to just dismiss it. Its a historic time in the world in which general assemblies are starting to happen all over, as cities across the US are also now having 'occupations'… We encourage folks to support the occupations and see them for themselves. Perhaps the topless nude activists, or the drum circle may not be for you, but the idea of having a national dialogue sparked about these greedy bankers and their abuse of the people is important and needed. We plan on going back with more people!!"

Indeed, Rebel Diaz has been present at many Occupy Wall Street events since September, as well as those organized by Occupy The Bronx and Occupy The Hood.

This week the duo (RodStarz & G1) and comrades from the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective (RDAC-BX) (http://www.rdacbx.org), joined by hundreds of others, led a march through the Bronx against the recent police killing of unarmed teenager Ramarley Graham and the police-beating of unarmed teenager Jateik Reed.

The march snaked through the Bronx up to the 42nd Precinct, where members of RDAC-BX "mic-checked" the names of officers involved in the incidents to the crowd. "We took the streets today with no permit, no mainstream media covering us, no politician tellin us what to do," the groups posted on their website after the march. "…we took over intersections, went to the 42nd Precinct...called out each Officer by name, we ended up on Jatiek Reeds block with the whole community demanding justice...this is only the beginning…"

"Our vision is to build community through the arts" reads the banner on the top of RDAC-BX's website." And they do that through many channels, from organizing to music to murals. Aside from a network of individuals and groups, RDAC-BX is also a concert space and social project in the South Bronx, hosting a recording studio, event center, chill space, free graffiti wall, and more for the community. Echoing the role the Pénas played in Chile's radical upheaval of the late 60's and early 70's (RodStarz and G1 have roots in Santiago), The RDAC space is a powerful combination of arts, cultural, and political activism that has opened its doors to many young people.

Keep your eye out for Rebel Diaz, they not only make amazing and powerful music, they are fully dedicated to making social change through the mediums of arts and culture.

Cultural Strategies:

  • Using Music to build community and mobilize people. 
  • Using beats and bass to teach Americans basic math about the bailouts (That's trillion, yo!)

 

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