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By Ishmahil Blagrove Jr


Monday, December 8, 2008.


The road Obama has taken to the White House is paved with the souls of all those who have fought for equality, justice and human rights in the United States. From the anonymous victims, both black and white, who made the ultimate sacrifice, to the more noted champions of black emancipation: Sojourner Truth, John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X.


But we should not overlook the contributions of Hip Hop music in helping to smooth over the cracks of prejudice and racism. For Hip Hop over the years has become the border where black and white cultures meet. Now the global language of the youth, Hip Hop has become today's pop. And it is the prism through which many whites appropriate their first experience of black American culture, albeit a skewered and distorted one.


From Afrika Bambata and Public Enemy to NWA and Spike Lee, the Hip Hop generation took up the struggles where the Civil Rights Movement left off. Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing was the first feature film to capture the relationship between Hip Hop and the struggle for civil rights. The theme track for the film, Public Enemy's “Fight The Power,” became the mantra for the Hip Hop generation way into the 90's.


Although the music is now justifiably open to criticism for promoting decadence and for its violent and misogynistic lyrical content, the barriers that have been dismantled as a result of Tupac, Biggie, Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, and Hip Hop culture in general should not be overlooked.


Obama's victory has raised the question on this side of the Atlantic: Could Britain one day have a black Prime Minister? Yet I don't think that day will be coming any time soon, for Britain still has the racist colour bars that prevent black British cultural expression from filtering to the mainstream.


How can we have a black PM before we even have a black music diva? The former prejudices of white America, which masqueraded Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones to the top of the charts whilst all but ignoring the black pioneers of the music form, is still alive and kicking in the UK. In Britain, David Rodigan, Tim Westwood and Tony Blackburn are the champions of Reggae, Hip Hop and Soul respectively; Amy Winehouse and Joss Stone are the divas of Blues and Soul.


If Britain is to one day witness a black man being elected Prime Minister based upon the content of his character and not the colour of his skin, then the black British artists who will pave the way need first to jump the discriminatory colour bars which many in Britain won’t even admit exists.


Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr., is the Editor of RiceNpeas.com, an independent British magazine. He is also an acclaimed documentary producer. He can be reached at info@ricenpeas.com


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