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One Imagination empowers the current and next generation of leaders through written and oral expression. As a collective based in the Long Beach/South Bay area, we believe that through conscious artistic programming, community education and outreach, and leadership development, we can cultivate a world free of hatred, ignorance, injustice, inequality, and oppression.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hip Hop Did Not Kill Melody Ross

We wanted to share the article, Mourning for Melody turns into a celebration by Tim Grobaty, and particularly, the comments it provoked because it has brought to light some disturbing, ignorant, and outright racist perspectives on the Melody Ross incident.

Post-racial society? I think not. Please take a look. We hope you can make it out tonight to honor Melody Ross and support her family.

Quotes taken from the comments:

“The fact that they are allowing a rap "artist" to take the lead on orchestrating an event that is the result of gang activity is the most tragic irony of all.” – Astounding of Los Angeles, CA

“Rap culture helped kill this young girl and you think it's a great idea to hype this attention seeking rap "artist" as a way to celebrate her life.” – Peace of Long Beach, CA

“…sure seems strange that a "rapper" is being highlighted in this event, since rap is the one unifying element in all gang activity without exception. You'd think that's the last thing they'd want at a memorial for a girl allegedly shot by a gang member.” – Wondering of Los Angeles, CA

“Not only is he [praCh] rare as an Asian rapper, but even more so as a rapper with SUBSTANCE. His lyrics transcends the voice of the Cambodian people, putting light on the Cambodian diaspora. The genocide in the 1970s was one of the darkest chapters in human history, one of which most of the world knows little about. Prach's work challenges us to never forget that and never to allow such atrocities happen again. To me, Prach is a humanitarian. Rap is the vehicle he uses to convey his message, which in my opinion, is a highly effective medium to today's youth.” – Chad of Long Beach, CA

“As for rap being only about gangs - could you sound any more stuck in the 80's? Some is crap and some is deeply relevant- like all forms of popular expression. To write it all off because you don't like it is to miss out on the artists that do have something to say. Sort of like people in the early 60's who didn't listen to Bob Dylan because they didn't like "that awful Rock & Roll". Subjugation of women? lets look at any hair metal band video from the 80's.Rap Culture didn't kill Melody Ross - a kid (yes I think 16 is a kid) who used to attend Wilson acted like an idiot and ended her life & his. period.” – LB Mom of Long Beach, CA

“Do you know the history of hip hop? This was a movement that was started in the Bronx during the 70s to help decrease gang violence. Rap sessions were developed to have dialogue about the community and what could be done to improve it. Breakdancing was an alternative to settling issues with knives and guns [which is why we have bboy/girl circles]. Graffiti was a way to paint the ghetto beautifully and take it back as their own since they did not have the high privilege to be in fancy art museums. It was also an alternative to 'tagging', which more associated with gang members claiming territory. [Many taggers moved over to Graffiti]. And all this was started by people under the age of 25. But what happened? Hip hop got SO BIG that money became involved. Corporations jumped on the opportunity to use this for their own profit. This is why you see hip hop everywhere now, on your billboards and television, and this is why many in the 'rap game' have the 'get rich or die trying' mentality because they have been brainwashed to believe that this will get them out of the hood. Fact: Black Entertainment Television is owned by white males.” – Upset of Cerritos, CA

“We will rewrite our own stories and take them back just how hip hop was meant to be. Peace, Love, Unity, and having fun.” – Upset of Cerritos, CA

“The same people who boast of America as "a melting pot," in one sentence will speak positively of "the cambodian business alligance," or "koreatown," when those organizations only serve to maintain cultural separation and lack of assimilation. The fact that "whatevertown" used to be where immigrants were virtually forced to live, to keep them "in their place," makes the irony of their staying there when they don't have to all the more ironic.” – Astounding of Los Angeles, CA
“NOTE TO praCh: "Escape" is pronounced "Es Kape," not "Axe Kape." If you want to improve your life, and the life of fellow Cambodians, don't take your pronunciation cues off of Black Ghettonians. They are laughed at, here in America, and Cambodians aspiring to taking their culture lower, will be a further source of unintended comic results.” – Wondering of Los Angeles, CA

“What's the deal with Cambodians who speak with a black slum accent? Why do they listen to rap music, which is the language of failure in almost all cases. For every one rapper who "makes it," there are scores of "wannabees" who do not, and waste their youth on what amounts to playing lotto professionally, often engaging it gang or gang-like activity to support their ‘art.’” – Astounding of Los Angeles, CA

“So you want to talk about assimilation? Refugees were not put into the best part of Long Beach, you know. They DID assimilate - in a community that consisted of mainly African Americans [which should answer your question of why they speak in a 'black slum accent']. They fended for themselves from the clear racism that existed in their surroundings. Not only that, but with parents constantly working and with little money in their pockets, poverty resulted into violence [as it still does today]. Of course, that wasn't the case for everyone. Many people managed to step out of that crowd and took advantage of opportunities away from violence. But I hope this helps to paint a better picture for you of WHY Khmer gangs exist in Long Beach in the first place.” – Upset of Cerritos, CA

“Now, with the Cambodian Business Alliance or other ethnic businesses out there. These organizations do not exist to maintain cultural separation. They are there to preserve a culture that has been stripped from genocide and war. But do you think they sit around talking about the killing fields all day? Of course not. This is their way of moving forward. It is vital that the community stays close knit because they must hold on to what they have left, while also providing opportunities and skills to excel in the business world - which is primarily white and male for those who have the most success.These ethnic towns all exist so we don't forget where we come from. So we can congregate and speak our own language without feeling isolated. Our cultures are beautiful. America is so focused on 'out with the old and in with the new' that people, especially teenagers, have been consumed with trying to fit in with the American stereotypes portrayed on television. Even old age is looked down upon in America. People dye their hair and try to stay young when in our culture it is an honor to be an elder.” – Upset of Cerritos, CA

“this is crap, the city allows these people to honor this girl, but they turn there head when its a innocent black or mexican that got killed. asians, stop trying so hard to be white!!” – prickprakchamkprang of Garden Grove, CA

“They are actually trying to be ghetto. Did you see the video of the uncle on the PT? The family is just going along for the political ride!” - La Santisima Muerte of Beaumont, CA

“Are you serious? How dare you talk about a family using the death of their daughter to get fame. Cambodians are into hip hop because that is the neighborhoods that they come from. Refugees don't get relocated into Beverly Hills. You complain about there being no solidarity between communities of color and yet you bash a community that is coming together to grieve. I'm proud of my city for taking initiative to help support the family of Melody. I'm also glad that real action was taken on behalf of our city officials. Lets not forget that there were three families who lost children in this tragedy. Melody's and her 2 killers. I'm sure the parents of the killers need support right now as well.” - ugly comments of Los Angeles, CA

“We all are haunted by the tragic death of Melody Ross. All my condolence to her family and friends. Another gifted life loss to yet another senseless violence. We have to look at the bigger picture here, what could have been done to help prevent this from happening again, and again.

When enough is enough is not enough, where do we go from here? what should we do next? instead of sitting behind the computer and insulting people whom is trying to make a change maybe you should go out there and make a change. That might make a different.” – Mick Harshpo of Laguna Woods, CA

“Melody's tragic death is a realization that none of us are immune to random acts of senseless violence. I'm glad and inspired to see people like Prach making efforts to rally together our communities so that Melody's death was not in vain. Rather than being remembered as just another victim, I think it's great that her life (albiet short) is celebrated. I am also glad that people like Prach don't just shake their heads at the situation, do nothing and go on with their lives... or worst - criticize and do nothing!” – Chad of Long Beach, CA