Generation Vexed 

Can hip-hop attitude be harnessed as a political force?

Page 9 of 9

It's a good sign, perhaps, that even without a hip-hop presidential candidate, organizing continues around the culture's core issues. Blackmon is already talking about how the generation might influence Oakland's 2005 mayoral race; and with a "hip-hop mayor" in Detroit, and a seated "hip-hop congresswoman" in Barbara Lee, there's a precedent for seeking elected offices, even if it's at the city council or school board level. Davey D, who recently coauthored a handbook for activists titled "How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office," explains that the plan should be to replace ignorant politicians of whatever race with "people who have sensibility with our issues." And that, presumably, would require more than a shout-out to Tupac or Outkast.

If nothing else, the current momentum may ensure that if and when a presidential candidate for the hip-hop generation ever emerges, he or she will be dealing with a better-organized and informed constituency, one that won't stand for the same old line, and is willing to utilize unconventional tactics to make sure its issues get heard. The odds for success may be long, but one thing's for certain: It won't be politics as usual.

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