We, the Hip-Hop community and members of Krip-Hop Nation are calling for an end to ableism. We are asking for Hip Hop artists, Hip-Hop fans/lovers, scholars, journalists, educators, activists and our overall community to center people with disabilities and join us in the Hip Hop for Disability Justice Campaign.
Individual Hip-Hop artists with disabilities have always advocated for their spot in Hip-Hop and called out ableism in Hip-Hop but there hasn’t been collective voices in Hip-Hop that enlarge the spotlight of ableism in Hip-Hop, in neither the underground and mainstream, until Krip-Hop Nation started in 2007. Although musicians with disabilities dates back to the Blues; Hip-Hop disability rights, activism and disability justice has
become almost non-existent in the entertainment field, especially in the music industry. Discrimination toward Black blind/ disabled Blues artists predates Hip-Hop to as early as the Blues when agents underhandedly recorded artists from the South and to the earlier days of Ray Charles who was mistreated by other musicians and agents etc..
Discrimination against sick and disabled musicians is nothing new but the increase of bullying and insensitivity toward people with disabilities not only in lyrics and music videos but in everyday life inside and outside of the music industry continues to grow with very little pushback. This kind of insensitivity, bullying, mocking in the most popular international culture called Hip-Hop can cause some damage to not only the disability community but perpetuates negative views and actions toward sick and disabled peoples.
On March 2016, the Ruderman White Paper, which is a comprehensive study on police- related violence in cases involving people with disabilities, revealed that “up to half of all people killed by police in the United States are disabled”. However, if you add all disabilities and not just mental health but also poverty and race, the number jumps into the high 70‘s. This information is staggering, especially, in these current times, where racial profiling is constant and the state violence against Black lives continues to increase. It is important to recognize that if someone is disabled and is a person of color the risk of state violence on them multiplies. If someone is a Black womxn and disabled, it multiplies again. And if they are
Topple all this, with the fact that healthcare is already difficult to access for poor and working class people of color. In addition to all these factors, there is always little-to-no mention information that the Black lives who have died and/or have been assaulted by the police state are often people with disabilities. For example: On July 13, 2015, Texas police claimed Sandra Bland “died by suicide” in their Waller County jail cell when she had a hxstory of epilepsy and Freddie Gray who had died on April 19, 2015, while being transported in a police van by the Baltimore Police Department also had a hxstory of lead poisoning where he may have experienced some neurological problems. In Miami, FL Arnaldo Eliud Rios Soto, an autistic young man of color was targeted by North Miami police officers because they thought his toy truck was a gun on July 18/2016, although his caregiver and behavior therapist, Charles Kinsey was shouting from the ground with his arms up, that “it was a toy truck not a gun and Soto has was shouting from the ground with his arms up, that “it was a toy truck not a gun and Soto has autism”. Media and people in the community, including community organizers hardly ever mentions that the Black lives lost were also disabled people.
Hip Hop, whose very creation was founded by poor Black and Brown lives, has always been about self-determination and the liberation of oppressed peoples. It is because of the stories of Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, and so many more that we honor their lives by coming together as a Hip- Hop community to call-out ableism and call-in the folx who are willing to engage in a genuine dialogue to dismantle ableism.
What is Ableism? Ableism are the practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities. It is a set of practices and beliefs that assign inferior value (worth) to people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities.
While we recognize that Hip- Hop itself did not start ableism, it is our responsibility as participants of Hip Hop to name the oppression(s) happening within our own Hip-Hop community and the overall entertainment industry:
• (1994) – The Hyphy Movement that used disability negative lingo like retarded, handicapped, short yellow bus, crippled and so one.
• (2003)- Black Eyed Peas hit song, Let’s Get retarded then changed to Lèts Get It Started
• (2007) – Drake – Played a character that was a wheelchair user, Jimmy then went on to make a dance after him, called Wheelchair Jimmy.
• (2013) – J Cole and Drake apologize about a lyric in their song that was insensitive to autistic people
• (2012 & 2016) – 50 Cents Bullied two autistic individuals.
• (2014) – Kanye West telling an audience member and getting the crowd by shouting “stand up!”. The audience member was a wheelchair-use
• (2007) Rob ‘Da Noize Temple (Co Founder of Krip-Hop told me that in the late 70’s early 80’s record labels and artists told him that he would never make it in the music industry because of his disability.
• (60’s) The U.K. TV show “It Was Alright” in the ’60s shocked Beatles fans when it recently revealed footage of John Lennon ridiculing disabled people during a performance.”
• (2014) Waka Flocka Railed For Cyberbullying Disabled Man
• (2012) The blogosphere has been abuzz the last few days about an emerging controversy involving the new “21 Jump Street” movie starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum and Ice Cube. The movie, set for release on Friday, March 16th, is being promoted by a YouTube trailer, which shows Ice Cube using the term “autistic” as an insult towards Jonah Hill’s character. After a detailed presentation from Hill on a bulletin board, Ice Cube mockingly states, “This chart looks like sh*t, are you autistic?”
These are just a few of the ableist microaggressions that happen within, throughout and beyond Hip Hop. As lovers of Hip Hop culture, it is our responsibility to call out these oppressions and to work together as a community to dismantle ableism. While we fully acknowledge that we do not have all the answers we offer these guiding points for the Hip Hop community to begin the process of putting an end to abeism:
Recognize the Intersections! Disability intersections with race, gender, sexuality and class; heightens the impact and the risk of violence. Ground yourself with intersectional feminism in order to expand your organizing work in Hip Hop and beyond.
Center People With Disabilities: Consider people with disabilities; consider Black and Brown people, people of color, indigenous peoples, queer and trans people with disabilities for your events, shows, rallies, actions, speaking engagements, and any movement work being organized. People with disabilities have the right to tell their own stories and should be considered (without tokenization) to be the center of any event. There are plenty of artists with disabilities and fierce speakers with disabilities who should be hired and paid to be at your event. Always recognize the power dynamics that happen with your own positionality and privilege(s). Recognize how you may be taking up space and how you may/should move back in order to center people with disabilities.
- Accessibility is a Must! When organizing any kind of event or even just a day of “hanging out” always remember to think about what accommodations are needed and work towards making those accommodations available. Consider how people with disabilities may need transportation to and from rallies, marches, or any actions. Consider their safety and any medical care that may be needed for them by providing volunteer nurses at actions.Scout locations, routes and venues prior to events and actions to assess what kind of accommodations need to be made for the day of the event/action. Provide sign-language interpreters, signage, visual aids, and materials that have braille, close-caption and large prints. Think about having a scent-free atmosphere and request people to not wear/use any chemical-scented products. Consider bright lights and noise levels. Provide gender neutral restrooms. Think about stages/platforms, passageways, doorways and stairways and how these elements alone can make an event inaccessible for people in wheelchairs.
- Believe: When a person with a disability informs you that the language you are using is offensive and it hurts, believe them and refrain from using that language/term/word. Expand your vocabulary and choose your words wisely so that you do not hurt anyone with a disability. When a person tells you they do not need any advice for treatment – believe them. As a matter of fact, don’t give any advice when they do not ask for one, period. When a person tells you they have a disability and to you, they do not fit the “traditional” description that they are disabled; believe them – not everyone has a physical disability, not everyone uses a cane or are in a wheelchair and some people have invisible disabilities. It is not up to you to determine who is sick and/or disabled.
- Call-Out Ableism: When you witness anyone behaving ableist in any form, call it out. Speak up and name the oppression(s) whether they’re using ableist language or mistreating and discriminating people with disabilities. Speak up when people use words like “retarded” as the “title of their song”. Call-out people who appropriate disability such as using images or objects (ie: wheelchairs) to promote a charity or an issue. Challenge organizers to center people with disabilities and call-out those who don’t consider people with disabilities as they organize their events. Determine when to call-in the folx who are willing to engage in a genuine dialogue to dismantle ableism.
- Justice, not charity! Move beyond Charity by organizing with people with disability not for them. Don’t accept gigs with national organizations who are not of people with disabilities and who have a bad reputation by the so-called people they serve like Autism Speaks. Many organizations like Autism Speaks is not representative of people with autism nor do they have people with autism in leadership. Furthermore, organizations like Autism Speaks intends to “cure”, erase and eradicate sick and disabled people. True organizations that seek to genuinely support sick and disabled people are: inclusive to people with disabilities by centering and having disabled people in leadership position; works towards systemicchanges for equal access and most importantly practices understanding and acceptance.
- It’s Bigger than Hip Hop! Join the Krip-Hop Disability Justice movement by being involved with local to global organizations who are doing the work. Most importantly, integrate disability justice into every facet of your organizing work.
PARTICIPATE IN THE COUNTDOWN TO….. KRIP-HOP NATION’S
10TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2017
WE ARE ASKING YOU TO CALL-OUT ABLEISM, CENTER PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES & SUPPORT KRIP-HOP NATION
• Spread our campaign and use the following hashtags: #kriphop2017 #hiphopagainstableism #wesupportkriphop #endabelism #hiphopfordisabilityjustice #Blackdisabledpastpresentfuture
• Take a photo of yourself showcasing your passion for Hip Hop with a message stating your support for Krip-Hop and/or calling out ableism, and/or using your own words for the support of the Hip Hop For Disability Justice Campaign and the end to ableism. Please make sure to include a description of your image. Use hashtag: #kriphop2017 in your message! And send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Follow us and support us on social media:
• Website: http://kriphopnation.com
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/19660954620/ • Twitter: https://twitter.com/kriphopnation
written by Leroy Moore & DJ Kuttin Kand
• Black Kripple Delivers Poetry & Lyrics by Leroy Franklin Moore Jr. aka the Black Kripple
• Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm By Percy Carey, Ronald Wimberly
Krip-Hop Nation is an international network of Hip-Hop & other musicians with disabilities with a few chapters around the world what we call Mcees With Disabilities (MWD) in Germany, UK & Africa. Krip-Hop is a community as well as style of music, an artistic space where people with disabilities can speak out and speak back to the social structures that exclude people based on disability, race, sexuality, and a host of other marginalized identities. For more information visit: http://kriphopnation.com
Pic: Kuttin Kandi, Filipina in a brown outfit on and Black cap on the deck scratching & Leroy Moore, Black man standing in his apartment courtyard with a Black shirt on his arms cross