We have been working on the concept and execution of the Zero Campaign for a few months. It was conceived as the overarching philosophy of all of our ventures including Brooklyn Bodega, The Hip-Hop Institute and The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival.
From the moment we booked Jay Electronica this time last year and culminating with his bringing of Jay-Z to our stage we knew our energy and actions were destined for something greater. Something that would impact our community directly rather than tangentially. After hosting some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop for the past 10 years, they were many who clamored for us to continue to mine the short tail of our great culture. ‘Go bigger’ ‘Get Paid’ ‘Blow Up’.
It was tempting to use the brand capital we had accumulated to double our attendance, triple our revenue and bathe in our success. But it never felt right. What we were always more interested in was using our knowledge and know how to uplift those around us. Give a break to a young brother or sister trying to figure out his or her dream. And ultimately return Hip-Hop Music & Culture back to its place of prominence as the voice of the community.
With the recent incidents and rulings in Ferguson, Cleveland and Staten Island the time to wholly shift our gaze to community empowerment and engagement is now. The tipping point has been reached and we, the Hip-Hop community, a community of artists, business and consumers must pledge to putting a stop to the ills ravaging our community and killing our family.
That is the mission of the #ZEROCampaign.
Hip-Hop in its creation was a counterbalance to policies that created a lawless and sometimes hopeless vacuum in New York City in the 1970’s.
Musically, Hip-Hop is the continuation of a long line of African and pan global rhythms passed down to generation after generation. From tribal drums to the blues to jazz to soul to funk eventually to Hip-Hop.
Hip-Hop is and was a grassroots community empowerment movement. We gave a voice to Blacks, Latinos, Jews, Gays, Lesbians, Italians, Japanese, Jamaicans and many more who felt the boot of institutional neglect on their necks.
As Hip-Hop became big business some of that revolutionary spirit was washed away. Artists, businesses, journalists and executives alike now too often remain silent or complicit in the destructive activities affecting our community. It is time to re-awaken the warrior spirit of Hip-Hop.
Today we make the pledge to stand up against gun violence, police brutality, domestic violence, lack of education and lack of employment opportunities.
Our aim is ZERO
ZERO instances of police brutality
ZERO gun violence deaths
ZERO cases of domestic violence
ZERO tolerance for politicians and other elected officials who by their silence or action contribute to policies that target our community
“I pledge to do all in my power to stop the senseless killings and acts of violence in my community. I pledge to not promote, condone or support these acts in my art, life or in my business. I pledge to do all in my power to strengthen my community, economically, culturally and intellectually. I also pledge to call on my colleagues and peers to join me in this campaign.”
We, Hip-Hop, have the megaphone. We have the influence. Michael, Eric and Tamir come from our community. Rather than using our power for solely commercial purposes we aim to use it to elect district attorneys who will respect us and remove those who don’t. We need to use our power to elect officials who will institute policies to ensure these are the last brothers we lose like this. Not one more. ZERO.
We must demand our respect and hold elected officials in New York and beyond accountable. The Hip-Hop coalition is who elected Mayor De Blasio, Public Advocate Tish James, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Senator Corey Booker and President Obama. We have good people in powerful positions. We need more.
We are the banner under which this change can happen. Because we have already done it. We must organize and properly use the power of the ballot, the power of the purse and the power of our collective voice.
How are we going to accomplish this?
Artists. We are asking artists to take it upon themselves to keep this mission in their minds as they create their various works. Your message is powerful and has the ability to save and change lives. We ask that use it for the betterment of the community. While not trying to infringe on any artists creative expression we do need to weed out those who are preying upon our community for selfish and destructive ends. Those who do must be refused our commercial and critical support. Instead we must direct our dollars and attention to those artists who are committed to never watching another brother or sister murdered in the street in front of our eyes. Never again. ZERO.
Businesses. We will identify businesses and professionals in our community committed to the ZERO goal. We must control our dollars and while we welcome entrepreneurs and business from all walks of life into the community we are deceiving ourselves if we do not realize that they are many establishments whose business model is simply to exploit us. We ask that businesses committed to this goal re-invest whatever resources they can spare (time, money, information) back into the community from which they profit.
Consumers. Finally to the consumers, we ask that you wield your power more responsibly. Black people (just one part of our constituency) control approximately $1.6 trillion in the fashion/apparel industry alone. We have helped make brands big and small incredibly wealthy. And what have we gotten in exchange? Followed, profiled and executed in public. We need to apply pressure where it hurts the most, the wallet. Initiatives like the recent #BoycottBlackFriday need to be repeated and used as necessary.
This is only our opening volley.
Artists who take the pledge will be made public so consumers can easily identify them and buy their music, attend their shows and support them in a comprehensive way.
Businesses will display the ZERO so our children know that is a safe place free from harassment, bullying or any other dangers confronting them. We will urge our audience to buy their coffee, sneakers, clothes, groceries and smartphones from ZERO businesses. For they will know that that a portion of their hard earn dollars will go back to their community.
Like minded consumers will be able to network and dialogue in attempt to solve this issue.
Our ZERO issues will grow as our community grows. While we must pick our battles we welcome all to add their ZERO cause to the discussion.
All are welcome. All are needed.
This is our call to action. If you are with us come join us.
Let’s build this together
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