We have a page on XRT’s website called Let’s See Action. It’s an attempt to hook people up with arts groups in the Chicago area that are serving our young people and making a big difference in their lives. There are so many volunteer and giving opportunities and we’re working on making that information available to anyone who is concerned about the high rate of violence. Many of us feel the arts and access to the arts are one part of a complex problem. For more information, go to the page and read our mission statement.
Common, an amazing hip hop artist and poet, returned to his hometown of Chicago to give the keynote address at the Chicago Music Summit. It was a conference to help local musicians and other music professionals with their careers. He was here when those 13 people were shot. Like the rest of us Common was shocked. But instead of just doing the head shaking routine, he wants to get involved. He feels hip hop artists like himself need to get involved. He feels he needs to do more. The question is what to do.
Rap artists are frequently criticized for adding to the culture of violence. Common feels rap songs don’t inspire someone to kill. They reflect the violence that is already in the streets. He does feel though that young rappers are influenced by the violence all around them and take that energy the wrong way and add to the glamorization of violence. Some of his fellow rappers may be providing a soundtrack for gangs and may be contributing to the gang violence that has taken so many lives. So it’s not the cause but could be a contributing factor. I hope I have fairly reflected his point of view. Just trying to get the dialogue started.
Common at one time proposed a Peace Summit in Chicago. Maybe it’s time to put that idea out on the table again. If not now, WHEN? Common knows it’s not a quick fix, but a good first step. I think this is a key point when Common goes on to say, “There has to be a consistent follow through. Young people, some of them may not be in a place where they can say, ‘OK, I’m going to stop violent behavior’. It may be a process. You have to deal with that.”
Yes we do. And Common is not just talking about it. He has his own foundation set up to expose at-risk young people to the creative arts. This is what we’ve been talking about. The arts can make a difference in the life of a young person. But we have to get involved with groups that are doing this kind of work to make it available for as many kids as possible.
Common has his own mission statement. Worth reading. Worth acting on.
“I started the Common Ground Foundation because I wanted to help. Most of all help people to help themselves. I always believed that if we started with the youth then we would be planting the seeds for our future to blossom. Give the children a sense of hope, self-esteem, and love that will better the world…I think making a difference in the lives of others is life’s greatest purpose. I walk this path with faith knowing that the Common Ground Foundation will Change the World.”- Love, COMMON
Here’s more on the Common Ground Foundation and what you can do to help.