Hip Hop & Climate Justice
This is the Time by Youth vs Apocalypse ft. Raka Dun, Alphabet Rockers, and Destiny Arts
No One is Disposable by Youth vs Apocalypse ft. Coco Peila, Dulce C. Arias, RyanNicole, Lizbeth Ibarra, Katerina Gaines, Sarah Goody
We are so excited about the development of a Hip Hop & Climate Justice department within YVA because as Ian Lawrence put it in a recent TEDTalk “Hip Hop has always been used to guide social and political perception.” YVA’s mission states that “Youth Vs. Apocalypse is a diverse network of young climate justice activists working together to lift the voices of youth, in particular youth of color, and fight for a livable climate and an equitable, sustainable, and just world...” What better way to “lift the voices of youth and in particular youth of color”, the frontline, female, gender queer, black, native, poor, working class youth, than through Hip Hop? If Hip Hop has always been used to guide social and political perception and “perception is defined as the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses or as a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.” Is there then, a better way to use Hip Hop than to guide the social and political perception of Climate Justice and The Climate Crisis as an intersectional issue? The Climate Crisis is the most pressing issue that intersects with all of the impacts of systems of oppression, a heartbreaking and threatening symptom of these long broken systems. Through Hip Hop our intersectional analysis of the Climate Crisis becomes accessible. It becomes irresistible, even to those who may have never heard of Climate Change or Climate Justice. It becomes relatable to those who previously wrote it off or felt it wasn’t for them because of the racism and classism within the Environmental/Climate movement. Hip Hop and Climate Justice were
both created in response to the results, impacts, and symptoms of systems of oppression, in resistance to these systems.
Hip Hop was born in the Bronx in the early 1960s & 70’s amidst poverty and a failing political system and administration whose policies were benefiting a small minority and discarding and attempting to dispose of the majority. It was conceived between the ghettos of Jamaica and the US, and born on the tail end of political movements in both countries. It was born after the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, after the assassinations and undermining of a number of our powerful organizers and leaders. It was created by young people stuck in hoods, in Shanty towns, with nothing to do but survive. So here we are nearly 50 years later and again female, black, brown, indigenous, latinx, poor, working class, immigrant, undocumented, queer, trans, frontline youth are stuck in their hoods, apartments, houses, shelters, wherever they live, but this time amidst an uprising for black lives, a pandemic, and a fascist political administration, with nothing to do but survive. This time we face this threat to our survival not just as isolated groups of targeted people, certain neighborhoods and ghettos, but as a global people facing the possibility of Apocalypse.
Overtly oppressive, racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic, antisemetic, and genocidal behaviors and attacks are being acted out more and more openly in society just as they were at the dawn of Hip Hop’s birth. Once again, the youth are facing down conditions their parents weren’t raised in and might not be around to survive through. This time it is the job of the adults to fully back the leadership and creative solutions of the youth. To get on board, not to dominate but to back and believe in this youth led movement. We Adult Supporters in YVA understand that this movement has the power to sweep the globe and change social and political perception for the better just like Hip Hop. Many of us were born right before, during, or after Hip Hop’s birth and have a deep relationship with the culture. No matter what walk of life we come from or where we’ve been set up within the system to oppress others or be the target of oppression, any stand we take against the climate crisis is a stand against all oppression, a stand for the survival of the entire human race. This time, all of our lives depend on us taking this stand. This is both terrifying and beautiful because it’s the first time in human history that our interconnectedness is so undeniable, that anything we do or don’t do clearly affects all of us.
- Coco Peila, Founder & Former Director of Hip Hop and Climate Justice