Michael Steele is not the only one confused about how to relate to our nation’s youth.
Many republicans, as well as Democrats, fail to realize that by using commercial hip-hop, they inadvertently promote many of the behaviors that they rave against. Bottom line: politicians have little information on how to connect with young adults, and Michael Steele incorrectly thinks he has to dress, act and talk like young adults to connect.
Yes it’s true Michael Steele, we have to many 8 track political parties in a MP3 world. Politicians, policy makers and educators all have been slow to catch up to the rising waves of youth interests and ways to use those interests to promote political participation and educational achievement. They might as well stuff a Bee Gees eight-track into the machine and get ready to do the hustle. Just realize, young adults won’t be willing to join in.
But they will join in, not through hip-hop, but through Youth Cultural Competence.
YCC is not about hip-hop. It’s about the conscious and strategic use of the following three elements to produce youth participation in the electoral process.
Youth Involvement – Listen to youth and get them involved. In order to reach youth you need help from the youth.
Positive Peer Influence – The power of peer influence is much stronger that that of the republican party. Use it as a force to promote political participation. Hire youth to send a message out about the importance of the political process. After all, they live in public housing, attend public schools and take public transportation – it just makes sense.
Youth Popular Culture – For the most part, current youth popular culture has had a limiting and destructive impact on the future economic life chances of the youth served in programs across the U.S. Turn this tide around, developed a strategy which uses the current interests of youth to emphasize political involvement and empowering values.
YCC is not multi-culturalism, which focuses on general ethnicity and race. YCC understands that young adults have their own cultural capital, and it uses that capital to reach and engage youth. Hip-hop is just one from of youth cultural capital. Not every young person is into hip-hop or wants to rap.
Also understand that commercial hip-hop has been misdirected and misguided by corporate interests and greed – just like Wall street. . If you use the culture, make sure to take out the commercial. The simple rule: if it does not promote life, freedom and future economic opportunity; it’s not entertainment. It’s attempted homicide.
Finally being YCC means continually adjusting to the cultural interest of the youth. Remember jazz? What was once rebel music quickly became the choice of the older generation.
Young people connect to adults who respect their youth culture. They appreciate adults that validate the cultural capital that they have taken on as part of growing up. When politicians negate the cultural capital of young adults, they devalue the young adults. In an urban culture, where respect is premium, consider the inevitable turn-off to politicians when young people’s culture is “disrespected.”
So relax Republicans – or you will find yourself trying to Krump dance. Get connected to our youth by connecting to them.
Edward DeJesus is the author of Countering the Urban Influence – Reclaiming the Stolen Economic Fortunes of America’s Youth. He can be reached @ http://www.ydrf.com.