Photo: @SO_Krispy
  /  09.15.2019

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The REVOLT Summit dominated Atlanta this past weekend during our three-day event, which was put in place to allow rising moguls the opportunity to be enlightened and informed by people in positions of power who look like us. One panel in particular called “Trap the Vote: Hip Hop & Politics” focused on the importance of being vocal and educating yourself ahead of the 2020 election. 

The panel discussion included activist and co-president of the 2019 Women’s March Tamika Mallory, rappers and activists T.I. and Killer Mike, activist and former spokesperson for the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign Katrina Pierson, American conservative commentator Candace Owens, and Steven Pargett of Dream Defenders. Journalist Jeff Johnson moderated the conversation.

It’s no secret that discussions regarding the current political climate can easily rile up emotions and frustrations, and that was no different with the “Trap the Vote: Hip Hop & Politics” panel, which has gone viral via social media.

The conversation was kicked off by the indecisiveness among young people when it pertains to voting. Johnson asked the panel if young people should feel inclined to vote because of the sacrifices their ancestors made to afford them the opportunity to cast a ballot. Mallory stepped in and noted that we should be “delivered from old language” because it is ineffective. Instead, she suggested engaging with young people by addressing issues that are at the core of their concerns: police brutality, education and jobs.

Meanwhile, T.I. chimed in and dismantled the need to have “a seat at the table,” noting that we should “want the mothrf—kin’ table.” He continued by saying that we can never continue to ask the oppressor to stop oppressing. Instead, we have to use leverage and apply force. “Our leverage is our culture, our leverage is the power of our dollar and until we take control of that and redirect that to the places and the people that we need to redirect it towards, then we’ll always be in a position where we have our hand out and we’re asking a motherf—ker to do something for us,” T.I. passionately stated.

Killer Mike stepped in and demanded that our history remain prevalent, opposed to being swept under a rug. He informed the audience that a blood oath has been made because of the sacrifices our ancestors made in order for us to have the right to vote. “You are a part of a process… Never in your black a– life allow your history to be wiped away,” he exclaimed.

The conversation then shifted when Johnson raised the topic of negotiation tactics. He invited the panelists to share their thoughts on how we can avoid acquiescing someone else’s agenda and instead be clear about our own.

Owens, who spoke in great detail about the importance of the black vote and her fear of it diminishing, said that there is a very small window where the black vote will no longer count because the majority of new births are Hispanic-Americans.

She then placed focus on the illiteracy rate in America. Owens used the city of Baltimore as an example, noting that across the city, a single black child could not pass a basic reading or math exam. She then compared the school system to slavery, saying that there were “three things necessary for them to run.” Owens listed ignorance, as black Americans were not allowed to know how to read because “an educated mind cannot be enslaved.” She then spoke on the poor conditions of the schools and candidates neglecting to make that a topic of their discussions. And lastly, she placed a beaming spotlight on father absence, insisting that is the biggest issue facing America. Owens said that an emphasis is being placed on the welfare system, which encourages unbalanced family dynamics. She said, “If you don’t marry the father of your children, you will receive more money.” Owens added that the premise of welfare is incentivizing bad behavior in the black community.

Things got heated, however, when President Trump and his actions in and for the black community entered the conversation. Pierson was asked about Trump’s administration and what makes her confident that they have the ability to deliver what a black community cannot. Pierson said that Trump has given money to HBCUs, eliminated $300 million of debt from Hurricane Relief to HBCUs, and gave another $100 billion to opportunity zones. “There are 9,000 opportunity zones that was established by the Trump administration, including probably two dozen counties in Atlanta, where he has put up hundreds of billions of dollars of investment into black communities,” she added.

T.I. stepped in and questioned how Pierson and Owens can “support and align yourselves with a constituency that will not denounce white supremacy?” He continued, “So that means your son or daughter or any of your brothers or any of your family members – if they are caught out there by a policeman who is a covert, undercover white supremacist and gets gunned down, this constituency would have absolutely nothing to say about it.”

Owens appeared eager to quip back at T.I. However, he continued his thought, “You’re talking about opportunity zones and I will never have anything negative to say about the financial benefits, the tax breaks that come from the Republican party… In order to benefit from opportunity zones, you have to have capital gains taxes. It ain’t many black people in these opportunity zones that have capital gains taxes to be able to reap the benefits of these things. Therefore, it will be billionaire corporations, other people who ain’t from these communities coming in here building sh-t that we don’t need, doing sh-t that don’t help us. But, they do that so they can shelter their taxes.”

Owens then addressed T.I.’s comment regarding white supremacy, calling his question a fallacy. “You insinuated that he has not denounced white supremacy,” she said. “Somebody, please, go to his Twitter feed right now. Go back to the shootings… You guys are so hung up on Charlottesville and nobody heard the entire clip. I wanna talk about why we get manipulated.”

She added, “This is literally why Black America loses right here. We allow people with cameras to go hear a whole speech – they do this to me all the time – they take out a couple of sentences you said and they create a whole new headline. People who were not there get incensed and get emotional and don’t actually go back to hear what was actually said in full context.”

Owens, who is widely known to be a controversial conservative, revealed that she was a Liberal before Trump entered office. She said the president “woke” her up. “I used to be Liberal. Trump woke me up to the idea that we’re being manipulated by the word racism every four years,” she explained.

Johnson interjected, questioning the difference between the fears Trump has created in poor whites, and the idea that black and urban people are their problem.

T.I. then raised a question about Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” “When you say ‘Make America Great Again,’ which period are you talking about?” he asked. “The period when women couldn’t vote? The period when we were hanging from trees? The crack era? Which period in America are you trying to make America like again?”

T.I. and Owens’ passion reached a level ten after she acknowledged that she would “totally wear a hat that said ‘Make Black America Great Again.’” T.I. then responded and asked again, “Which period was America great that we’re trying to replicate? Which era was it?” He added, “You’re making light of the enslavement of people that look like us.”

Johnson asked Killer Mike to intervene and share his thoughts, to which he disagreed with T.I. “What y’all are seeing right now are free people arguing over who got the best master,” Mike said. “I’ll tell you when America was great – seven years after the ending of the Civil War. Seven years after the Civil War, blacks within seven to 15 years accumulated over 15 million acres of land. Black people were the only skilled labor in there.”

Mike also agreed with Owens’ point about illegal immigration affecting the black community. “You have to remember that people who look like you immigrate, too. So, before you widely say f—k ‘em all, remember America is always going to have a slave class. And if illegal immigrants or legal immigrants will not be the lowest paid workers, those in prison will be and that always ends up looking like one of their sons. So, it circles back around.”

He added, “The most important thing is self-organizing. By the time we get to a candidate, we should have a list that says, ‘White man, white woman, these are our demands. You can meet them and get our vote or not, and we gon’ stay home and crochet and make collard greens.’ But, what you cannot do is continue to argue over who is the best master.”

Watch the full “Trap the Vote: Hip Hop & Politics” panel below!

T.I., Killer Mike, Candace Owens, & More Talk: Black Agenda, Voting, & Donald Trump | REVOLT Summit

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