Stand and Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership, and Hip Hop Culture

Yvonne Bynoe Knowles, Author, Yvonne Bynoe, Author
Yvonne Bynoe Knowles, Author, Yvonne Bynoe, Author Soft Skull Press $13.95 (150p) ISBN 978-1-932360-10-3
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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The essays and interviews collected in this volume are passionately addressed to one of the most troubling enigmas of contemporary American life: why is it that the African-American community has entered a period of comparative political stasis at the same time that hip hop has become a dominant cultural force? Bynoe, who publishes the newsletter Full Disclosure: The Business of Hip-Hop, contends that today's black leadership has failed to consolidate and build on the achievements of the civil rights era, and her book argues that the tradition of effective activism might be revived by tapping into the enormous energies of the hip hop explosion. Bynoe offers a detailed, critical overview of activism since the 1960s (including a reprinting of the Black Panther's 10-point plan), interviews with such figures as Clarence Lusane (Hitler's Black Victims) and Kate Rhee of the Prison Moratorium Project. Bynoe's concerns throughout are largely practical, and she is impatient with any theory that lacks real-world application. Her thumbnail profiles of such""young political turks"" as Newark city councilor Cory Booker and hip hop entrepreneurs like Sean""Puffy"" Combs are incisive; she's keenly aware of limitations to power and influence both actual and self-imposed. On the issue of hip hop culture itself, Bynoe is less satisfying, subscribing to an oversimplified and moralistic division between""conscious"" rappers and their gangsta colleagues. Such phenomena as the worldwide reach of hip hop are not explored. And the careers of such rappers as the late Tupac Shakur, who could move between conscious social critic and unrepentant gangsta within the same song, do not really fit into Bynoe's manichaean thesis. However, Bynoe's urgent critique is nonetheless timely and worthwhile, and her insights are founded on a deep understanding of the uphill battles facing those who would effect meaningful social change.
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