The crisis facing young blacks, also referred to as the “hip hop generation,” is one that is multifaceted and contains various layers. Young Blacks today are being faced with a number of challenges within their community and within society as a whole. These challenges include, rising unemployment, racial profiling, high levels of incarceration, the AIDS epidemic, an increasing generation gap, as well as a growing education achievement gap. When coupling these many challenges with the glorification of drugs, violence, money, and the degradation of women that is often promoted within the hip hop culture, the future of young blacks in today’s society remains at-risk and in crisis. Therefore the question remains, how do we address the crisis facing African American youth today? There is no doubt that the answer to this question will not easy. We must first determine, who is this so-called “hip hop generation,” and look at the history and emergence of this generation of young people within African American culture. We must then explore how this generation was shaped. What are the events and occurrences that have shaped this generation and contributed to the crisis this generation now faces? This includes an examination of the society, culture, politics, and pop culture of the 1980’s and 1990’s, which the “hip hop generation” grew up in. Once we examine and understand those issues that have fashioned this young generation of African Americans, we can then begin to explore solutions to the crisis that has negatively affected many of today’s black youth. Although the challenges are many, so are the possibilities of overcoming the crisis many young Black people face. The solution involves the African American community, as well as society as whole coming together to face the challenges this generation is battling. It involves an examination of public policy and a strong look at our government. And finally, it involves a serious critique of the hip hop culture and pop culture that have such a large influence on African American youth today. Who makes up the “hip hop generation,” and who does this demographic consist of? The term “hip hop generation’ is used mostly to describe the generation growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Many have termed this group of young people as “Generation X.” However, when speaking specifically about young Black people, for many the term “hip hop generation” was much more fitting. One of the first coiners of the term was Bakari Kitwana, head editor of The Source: the magazine of hip-hop music culture and politics, during the 1990’s. Kitwana defines the generation as those born between 1965-1984, basically those growing up in “post-civil rights Black America” (Kitwana, 2002). Although hip hop music, culture, and politics have changed quite a bit over the almost 20 year span that makes up the “hip hop generation,” many of the issues and challenges facing this generation of young people have remained consistent. As Kitwana noted, “individuals may point to different defining events, but all share a crystal clear understanding of coming of age in an era of post-segregation and global economics” (Kitwana, 2002). Essentially, the “hip hop generation” consists of Black youths that are aware of the progress that has been made through the civil rights and Black Power movements, but is equally aware of the struggle that remains for young African Americans living in today’s society. Despite the progress made during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement, young Black people are still faced with new forms of racism such a racial profiling and redlining. Additionally, they must deal with large disparities in employment and education in comparison to their white counterparts. The reality of such challenges have left Black youths feeling marginalized and unconnected to society as a whole, as they struggle to deal with the crisis before them. Let us now examine the challenges and issues that have impacted the coming of age...
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