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    1. #1
      Steven is offline Premium Member

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      Interview with Troy Nkrumah - Internal Chair of HipHop Political Convention

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      Troy Nkrumah is currently the Internal Chair of the National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC), an international organization with chapters in over 15 cities across the US and Puerto Rico and Brazil. He has been instrumental in forming the national organization and developing the widely accepted Hip Hop Political Agenda.

      Troy has been doing grassroots organizing since the age of 18 as a college student at Santa Monica College in Los Angeles. He began organizing after being recruited by and taken under the wing of Kwame Toure (formerly known as Stokely Carmichael) of the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party.

      After transferring to San Francisco State University (SFSU), Troy got involved with campus politics and was eventually elected to Student Body President of SFSU. At the same time, he began working with various organizations and movements including, Critical Resistance, Black Radical Congress, The Young Comrades, The Million Youth March NYC, and was one of the founders of the Bay Area Chapter of the political prisoner advocacy group called; The Jericho Amnesty Movement. Troy has organized with several activists and former Black Panther Party members and former political prisoners such as Jeronimo Pratt, David Hilliard, Elaine Brown, Angela Davis, and Khalid Muhammad to name a few.

      Troy Nkrumah, recently graduated from Golden Gate University where he received his Masters in International Relations and a Juris Doctorate with an emphasis in International Human Rights Law. While in Law School, Troy interned with the United Nations in Tanzania at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Troy has guest lectured at San Francisco State University and the University of California at Berkeley. He has also taught law to high school students at the School for Social Justice and Community Development in Oakland, California.

      In 2003, Troy was asked by several national organizers to create the Bay Area Chapter of the NHHPC, later called BayLOC, and help organize the west coast contingent to the National Convention held in Newark, NJ in June 2004. A few months after the National Hip Hop Political Convention, Troy called for the leadership that came out of the convention to gather and the development of a national organization of the same name.

      In the Summer of 2005, Troy relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to Las Vegas, NV and began forming the Las Vegas Chapter of the NHHPC where he aligned with local youth activists to put together a hip hop benefit concert at UNLV to raise funds and awareness around the crisis in the Sudan.

      Currently, Troy manages two separate R&B performers and is studying for the Nevada State Bar. As Chair of the NHHPC, Troy is responsible for the development of the organization locally, nationally and internationally.

      These questions were developed and submitted by J. Michael Carr, Jr. to the NHHPC Internal Chair, Troy Nkrumah, on November 4, 2005.

      ANWM: What is the National Hip-Hop Political Convention (NHHPC)? And how is the NHHPC structured locally, nationally, and internationally?

      Nkrumah: The National Hip-Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) is an international organization that addresses the needs of the hip-hop community in particular, and society in general. One big mix up is that people often think we address the needs of hip-hop artists and music specifically, however, we are not artist oriented or driven.

      We do not deal with the needs of hip-hop artists outside of the needs of the hip-hop generation as a whole.

      You could compare the development of the NHHPC to the development of the NAACP almost 100 years ago when it first rose out of the Niagra Movement.

      Like the NAACP, we were born into an organization that developed out of a gathering of activists from around the world. Now, we come together to discuss the current status of a particular group of people. The NAACP addresses the status of Black folks in America, while the NHHPC has come together to discuss the current situation of folks who make up the Hip-Hop Generation. This generation exceeds racial boundaries as well as gender, religious and sexual orientation. The only boundaries around the Hip-Hop Generation is the boundary of age, and that’s not a set boundary since the hip-hop generation grows older every day.

      The first national, or international gathering of the Hip-Hop Generation, for political purposes, was the 2004 National Hip-Hop Political Convention, held in Newark, NJ. This mobilization brought together hip-hop activists from all around the world for one main purpose, which was to develop and agree upon a political agenda.

      Another way to look at this through the lens of hip-hop is to say, the hip-hop community came together and added another element to the culture. We all know the elements that make up hip-hop culture are djing, graffiti art, dance, and emcee’ing. Well with the 2004 convention, and the various similar activities by other hip-hop organizations, politics was added to the culture. As a result, you don’t have to be a dj to be hip-hop, or a rapper. Now you can be an activist or a politician and be just as much part of hip-hop as the dopest emcee.

      However, this is not to say that because you are young and an activist or a politician, it automatically makes you hip-hop. That would be as ridiculous as saying that because you make a rap record you are an emcee or you are hip-hop. Didn’t Rodney Dangerfield make a rap record back in the day…? Nor does it mean that since you are young and paint on a walls it makes you a graffiti artist.

      To be hip-hop means you do participate in these various elements in a certain manner. It is the manner that determines if it is hip-hop or not. So bringing it back, what we did, as hip-hop activists, is determine the manner in which one’s politics would be considered hip-hop. We did that by developing and agreeing upon a political agenda, which has since been widely accepted in part or full by the various hip-hop organizations around the country.

      With this said, it should be understood that before the convention, there was no organization called the National Hip-Hop Political Convention and there were no defined politics within hip-hop. Before the convention, the media was defining our agenda, thus defining hip-hop.

      It was only after the convention that many of the attendees felt the need to form a national organization. It was a logical next step. We already had local chapters partially set up because part of organizing the National Convention was done through local organizing committees (LOC’s), whose job it is to develop local, and statewide political agendas; then introduce them at the Convention. Once the national agenda was developed and accepted, it still held no weight unless folks were going to work to get the issues adopted by those in power.

      In order for that to happen, we needed an organization. We invited folks to gather once more in Atlanta on February 2005, and it was there that we agreed to set up an interim government made up of LOC members from around the country.

      To get back to your question of what is the NHHPC, it can most easily be described as an international organization, with 15 chapters in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Brazil. We are an organization that does its work through the local chapters, or Local Organizing Committees (LOCs).

      Our purpose is to work towards the implementation of the National Agenda on a local, regional, national, and international level. (Which, I guess, means we should probably change the title of the agenda from “National” to “International”). Currently, the structure of the NHHPC is like this: the organization works from the bottom up.

      We have some of the best youth organizers from around the country with long bios and years of experience as activists. We have everything from community organizers to gang organizers and student organizers. Some specialize in electoral politics while others focus primarily on grassroots organizing. Our folks make up all levels of the political spectrum of progressives; we have liberals and we have radicals.

      We don’t always agree, but we all want to make the world a better place, and agree that those in power who push individual greed over the benefit of the whole society need to be replaced with a more compassionate and caring leadership. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t make us all Democrats. We are critical thinkers, so we understand that within United States’ social, economic and political system, much of the greedy leadership comes from Democratic Party as well.

      Sorry, back to the subject. The LOC’s are very autonomous. They each have the power to organize themselves. There are very few requirements that must be met to be recognized as an LOC. We do require the acceptance of the national agenda, as well as a certain number of members (at least 10 to be recognized) and specific requirements for local membership.

      Nevertheless, the specific requirements are to be decided by the LOC itself. If an LOC wants to require dues, or a certain number of hours of work, or certain attendance, it’s up to the LOC to do so, but they do need to require something specific from their members. We also require LOC’s to make voter registration a large part of their events. This is because we understand that power within the electoral process in this country is based on either money or votes.

      Since we don’t have the same money as Chevron or DuPont, we need another base from which to wield our political power. When you register 5000 people in a city, local politicians start to notice you. Many of them win their seats on city councils with a margin of less than 1000 people.
      As for our structure, the National structure is simple. The leadership works through a steering committee.

      There are reps from almost every LOC on that steering committee. We have an Internal Chair (myself in Las Vegas) and an External Chair (Khari Mosely out of Pittsburgh Penn.). The internal chair deals with the actual functioning of the organization while the external chair deals with our relationship with other organizations or outside bodies. (i.e. media, funders, partner organizations, etc..).

      We also have positions on the steering committee that deal with such things as finances, research, administration, communications, etc…
      Currently the national leadership is interim and will change during or after the next national convention, which takes place on July 19-23, 2006 in Chicago, Ill.

      ANWM: Can anyone be elected to a national office in the NHHPC?

      Nkrumah: To be elected to the national steering committee, there are a few requirements. The first and most important is that you be a recognized member of your LOC. That’s basic, because why would anyone trust you to be committed to and run a national organization when you cannot even make a commitment to the same organization locally. That is the first requirement.

      You also must stay active in the LOC while you are on the steering committee. One thing we do not want is leadership that is not accountable. There are too many people running around wanting to be the head of something, but not willing to do the work that it takes to earn that position.

      The track record that gets you elected into a position on the national steering committee will not be based on what you tell us you did, it will be based on you demonstrating your commitment, and the folks in your LOC putting you forward as a candidate for national leadership. If someone really wants to be part of the steering committee they need the backing of their LOC. So I would suggest they work their butts of locally and earn that privilege.

      Sometimes, as we have seen over and over with failed organizations, people start a group and put themselves at the head with no intention of leaving. You know they have no intention of leaving because there is no process for creating and developing new leadership.

      Our organization is just the opposite. We started the interim steering committee to get the organization set up and ready to be taken over by the hard working LOC members who will step up as leaders by the time the next convention roles around. There is also room for local organizers to sit on national committees.

      You don’t have to be in any form of leadership locally or nationally to be part of the working or ad hoc committees. For instance, we have an ad hoc disaster relief campaign and fund (due to the many hurricanes this year). If you are part of a LOC, and you really want to work around that issue, you can be part of that national committee. We currently have a 2006 Convention Committee to help the Chicago LOC with convention needs, and a Financial Committee that works to help raise funds for the organization.

      ANWM: As chair of the NHHPC, what are your duties and responsibilities for the 2006 convention scheduled to take place in Chicago, Illinois?

      Nkrumah: In regard to the 2006 Convention, my role as internal chair is limited at this point. As the convention gets closer I will take on a more active role where I am needed, but as for now, the convention details and logistics are solely the responsibility of the Chicago LOC who will be hosting the event. Right now, the convention’s greatest need is monetary. All of us are trying to help raise money through our LOCs so we can contribute to the convention.

      The 2004 Convention cost the Newark organizers approximately 2 million dollars. These events are not cheap. We don’t expect this next convention to run so high because, in reality, the money is just not there like it was in 2004. During the last election year, we had a lot of funding from folks with money contributing to what they realize will be the new force in this country. Outside of an election year, getting that same fiscal commitment will be difficult; and we expect that. As for my duties during the convention, we haven’t really reached that point of discussion, but I am committed to doing whatever is needed of me whenever the time comes.

      The convention is open to anyone who is interested even if they are not part of a LOC. I would encourage folks to start planning now and form your LOC that way you can have delegate status at the convention. Delegates will have the power to vote on the national leadership, direction of the organization, and the political agenda.

      ANWM: What is the NHHPC charter?

      Nkrumah: Well what you call “The Charter” would be our 5 point political agenda. The agenda is a living document that is subject to change with the times. The agenda is called the Hip-Hop Political Agenda and the general points address Education, Economic Justice, Criminal Justice, Health and Wellness, and Human Rights. Our positions on these points is pretty detailed so I won’t include them in this interview, but you can see the full text at:

      ANWM: What are some of the significant differences between the NHHPC platform and other national political parties (i.e. Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, and Reform)?

      Nkrumah: The differences between the NHHPC and the platforms of the various political parties such as the Greens and the Demo/Repulicrats and the likes is that first off, we are not a political party. I mean, I personally would love to help form a political party around our agenda since I refuse to vote for anyone solely based on their party affiliation.

      Personally, I didn’t care how fucked up Bush was, I wasn’t going to vote for Kerry just because he was a democrat. By doing that I would have had to abandon my principles, and one thing I have gained from the teachings of Brother Malcolm (X) is that you never ever compromise your principles. NEVER! However, not everyone in our organization holds the same views as me. There was nothing in our agenda that indicates we must endorse or support a particular candidate. That’s the beauty of our agenda.

      We have a list of things we stand for as the Hip-Hop Generation. When candidates for political office come to us, and they do, we give them our agenda, tell them to come back and let us know where they stand on the issues in our agenda. We cannot endorse them nationally as an organization but we can let our constituency know where they stand in comparison to their opponents. Locally, if an LOC wants to endorse a politician, that’s up to them. The serious politicians that want to work with us will, despite ideological disagreements.

      We are delighted to have worked with Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressman Jessie Jackson Jr, the Progressive Caucus, and the Congressional Black Caucus, along many others on various occasions. It’s also not unusual to see our members working on campaigns independent of the national organization. The NHHPC is mostly involved with referendum campaigns, ballot measures, and state propositions more so than with actual candidates.

      The clearest difference with our organization and the other political parties is probably the radical ness of our agenda. Which of these other groups are calling for the immediate end of war in Iraq along with the end of imperialistic campaigns against countries like Afghanistan, Colombia, and Haiti? Which of these political parties believe in Universal Healthcare and government sponsored education from preschool to PhD.?

      See, we understand that the trillion (taxpayer) dollars being spent to re-colonize the world through military campaigns could be spent on education and healthcare in this country, which would do more to strengthen this nation than all the wars put together. Which of these groups are standing against the prison industrial complex and calling for the end of the warehousing of young black and brown men? Yeah we are radically different from those political parties. Even though the hip-hop generation will probably not see such changes in our lifetime, it does not mean that we shouldn’t be demanding them now.

      ANWM: Hip-hop has always been considered sexist, misogynist, and homophobic. What is the NHHPC stance on issues that concern women, gays, and lesbians?

      Nkrumah: I wouldn’t say that hip-hop as a whole has always been considered sexist, misogynist and homophobic. The music, definitely has been, but not the culture as a whole, especially not the political activists within the hip-hop community. See the problem with hip-hop activism is that too many people look to the artists as the political voice of hip-hop, and that is 100% wrong. Artists are artists.

      They are not necessarily activist. With the exception of a few, the artists that many look at as the political conscience of hip-hop, are not themselves organizers. Most are not involved with political organizations, thus they are not accountable to anyone other than themselves or their record label. If you examine the history of political movements and their leadership in this country, you will find that the leaders are always part of something bigger. They don’t stand alone. They always have an organization behind them. You name the leader and I bet you that you cannot find one that was not part of a larger body. With hip-hop we make the mistake too often of looking at artists as leaders.

      We do so because they have the microphone and everyone’s attention, but that’s a major mistake since they lack the political education and organizing experience that is required of a political leader. I speak generally but there are a few exceptions where artists are also organizers. Folks such as M1 of Dead Prez who is part of the Uhuru Movement and the Prisoner of Conscience Committee (POCC). You also have long time activist and organizer Boots Riley of the Oakland rap group, The COUP. The point is there are a lot of exceptions and interesting cases when we talk about conscious hip-hop. Tupac was one, he tried to balance his militancy with his sexism, which lead him to all kinds of confusion and contradictions.

      Chuck D and Public Enemy, who had writers politicizing them behind the scenes, could have started a massive organization in the late 80’s and early 90’s when all of us wanted to be part of PE’s “Security of the First World” (S1W’s) militia. If S1W was an actual organization, we could have fast forwarded the movement by about 10 years. KRS1, who has gone back and forth changing his ideology so many times that now you have to listen to each new album to find out where he currently stands. Then, surprisingly, cases of folks like Jay Z and Kanye West, step up and say some unexpected shit.

      Again, because folks say something political in a rap does not make them a hip-hop organizer, and vice verse. To answer your question, just because a rapper says some sexist shit does not make hip-hop, in itself, any more sexist then the larger society as a whole. I hope that all makes sense.

      When folks come out with sexist lyrics or concepts, we shouldn’t be surprised with what we hear. What do we expect? These folks are products of two evils, one being Amerikkkan society, and the second being the music industry. Finding a principled progressive who is part of both these institutions is not very likely, so why would we look for leadership to come from such? Not only should we expect the worse, we should call it out and not support it.

      The reality is, sexism and sexual discrimination runs rampant in our society, and should be attacked by folks who organize for social justice. It is a contradiction to speak about freedom and social justice, then to ignore injustice. This is well understood by the activists within our organization. Our leadership is made up of experienced organizers. We recognize an individual’s freedom of sexual orientation as a Human Right should be protected.

      We also have a Progressive Women’s Caucus whose responsibilities include addressing issues of sexism within the organization when it rears its head. We are not working under the assumption that we are above such problems internally. Any group that thinks such; either refuses to recognize it or doesn’t understand how Amerikkka works (or doesn’t work for many of us). This is a racist, sexist, class oriented society that propagates its status quo in all forms of media. We are bombarded with this train of thought daily. The only way to overcome the problem is to recognize it and attack it. Whether it’s externally, internally, organizationally, or individually. Anything less would not be principled.

      ANWM: How can someone get involved with NHHPC?

      Nkrumah: The easiest way to get started is this:
      A. Organize at least 10 progressive minded members of the hip-hop generation in your area or on your campus.

      B. Have them fill out a delegate registration form and then Local Organizing Committee registration form found on our website at:

      and mail it to Troy him for more information DO NOT MAIL IT TO JERSEY!!!!

      C. Once you get your folks together, work on putting together a local political agenda (issues in your area that you think need to be addressed and fixed). Make sure it doesn’t contradict the national agenda, then start working on those issues. Putting on events can be as easy as a town hall meeting, a local hip-hop show, a panel discussion or a teach in. Be creative with it, use your own flavor, that’s what hip-hop is about.

      There are various ways you can start implementing your agenda. First, we encourage folks to reach out to us through email, or however they found out about us, so we can put them in contact with organizers in their area, or others in their area that are interested in forming an LOC. If there is not an active LOC in the requested area, then we coach folks in starting one, and provide them with all the necessary literature. Sometimes, there is an LOC in the area, but not necessarily close enough for people to become active members, in which case if folks don’t want to start a new LOC we would encourage them to become general members (if the LOC allows it).

      General members wouldn’t have the same voting rights as active members. They are counted in the LOC’s membership but do not have to maintain all the same requirements as voting members.
      There are also organizations that might want to be part of the NHHPC, and that is also possible. Again, as long as the minimum requirements are met, then groups can double as LOC and whatever their other organizations might be. We ask that it’s not part of a larger organization.

      For example, if students at a high school or college have a Black Students Union, and want to be part of the NHHPC, then there is no problem with them merging. However, if the college chapter or the local chapter of NAACP wanted to merge, we would have a problem with their membership. Both of us would be considered national organizations with different political agendas, and that would create a conflict of interest.

      This does not mean that someone who is part of the NAACP or any other national organization cannot be a full on member of the NHHPC. Many of our members have dual membership with other organizations. It’s just important that other organizations do not try to co-opt us or infiltrate us with the intention of making us their puppets. We are way too politically mature to fall for that old trick, plus we are “riders”, so no telling how we will deal with such a diss, but I can tell you it wouldn’t be pretty.

      You can find out more about our organization

      Or contact me at:
      Troy Nkrumah
      Internal Chair, NHHPC

      Note: I hope I have represented the organization appropriately and not with so much of my personal political views. My spelling of the word “Amerikkka” was done purposely, but it only represents how I, personally, view this country. It’s not the view of the organization. If I have done so, I apologize to my comrades for confusing any of my personal believes with the views and politics of the organization.

    2. #2
      Nesayem is offline Afrika Is In You

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      Thank you for this article. There was some really good points brought out such as,"They are not necessarily activist. With the exception of a few, the artists that many look at as the political conscience of hip-hop, are not themselves organizers".

      It's great to see young people and activist standing together to see changes in the music industry. What do you feel the outcome of this convention will be? Have you had any dealings with this organization?

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