Hip Hop Immersion

Over the holiday break, McCarthy Center Community-Engaged Learning Program Manager, Jackie Ramos, joined Dr. Stephanie Sears, Director, Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars (EMDS) Living-Learning Program, and Dr. Kathleen Coll of the USF Politics Department and this year’s EMDS cohort for their annual intersession immersion. They facilitated an unforgettable trip to New York and Washington, DC with Esther Madriz Scholars for all things hip hop. Jackie recounted her experience, and provided photos to give us a taste of their trip to the birthplace of hip hop.

“Hip hop saved my life,” by the great Lupe Fiasco. What I gained in Dr. Sears’ Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars class & our trip to the East Coast as co-facilitator with Dr. Coll left an impact on how I appreciate the world. That in the direst of circumstances—there’s hope in community as the driving force to push back against systems of suppression.

That’s what Sears has been emphasizing—how the true essence of hip hop was created to stand for justice, fight for equity, break borders to build bridges, & reclaim space in places where the oppressor has tried to erase us. How? Through the core principles of hip hop: “Peace, love, unity, having fun, & attaining knowledge.”

I witnessed this in the way the students build kinship in humility with each other, to applying what’s gained in the classroom to working alongside grassroots organizations, & elevating this journey by holding space with community leaders, activists, educators, & artists from the Bay to the East Coast, folks who’ve committed their lives to lift the common good.

During our trip, we got to watch a live taping of DemocracyNow!, engaged with leaders in AOC’s office, the Hip Hop Caucus, & the Zulu Union, built with artists in graffiti, breakdancing, & MCing, embraced the culture of communities in NYC & DC, & absorbed legacies in museums & poetry slams.

Truth is—walls crumble. Systems of hate will cease to exist. What remains? The saving grace of community—when *we* tell our stories, rise in self-awareness, preservation, & creativity. Change is & will happen. That’s the undeniable power of the people.

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