Stop Whining and Come Together

Instead of continuing the cycle of negativity, take some action that pumps love, peace, and groove into the community

It seems as though, increasingly, I’m greeted with an overflow of complaints when I sign onto Facebook. I know that I certainly do my share of complaining, but I’m not referring to complaints about children who won’t go to sleep or the stomach bug that’s made rounds through someone’s family three times. I’m talking about bigger societal complaints. The kind that border on (and sometimes cross into) outrage. The posts run the gamut from anger over the hiring of a school superintendent to hot, finger-pointing commentary on the racial issues we still deal with today.

People should certainly be able to air their grievances when they perceive something going wrong in place and culture in which they live, but if a person has made five status updates in a row listing newly discovered justifications for their (self)righteous indignation, what purpose are they serving? The person is only whipping themselves into further froth, and if there’s no solution or call for discussion and understanding proposed, such “commentary” only poisons the waters even further. 

Today I’d like to share an example of a freshening of the community waters—Columbia’s Hip-Hop Family Day, presented by Hip-Hop Live in partnership with the Indie Grits Film Festival.

At a time when today’s commentary and social media arguments seem laced with racial or racist undertones, there are times when certain aspects of creative culture are attacked or dismissed. Hip-hop has dealt with the smudge of social stigma from the time it began as an underground artistic expression of urban life in the 1970s. Over the past 40-some-odd years, the music and cultural aspects of this genre have evolved into the mainstream, where bolder, more audacious performers and negative imagery tend to attract more attention. Sherard Shekeese Duvall is leading the charge for a day of “Love, Peace, and Hip-Hop” for a third year, calling on families of every background to come together on April 18 from 11 A.M. - 5 P.M. at the 1700 block of Main Street in Columbia, SC. 

“Our goal is to ensure that hip-hop is represented properly and works as a medium that can unify our community for a day of peace, love and fun,” Duvall writes. In 2013 and 2014 that goal was accomplished and surpassed. Everyone I know who’s taken their brood to Hip-Hop Family Day has had glowing reviews, some even saying that they were surprised by the amount of family bonding that occurred as a result. Once again, this year’s party will feature interactive art exhibits, dancing, and live performances in a family-friendly atmosphere of fun and inclusion. Headliners include Nice & Smooth, Big Gipp of the Goodie Mob, and London-born Monie Love, who was the first British hip-hop artist to be signed to a major label.

Last year I’d planned to take the kids downtown and let them go wild at this celebration, but little B went down for an early nap (my attempt to get through the party without a toddler meltdown) that turned into a 5-hour sleep marathon. This year there’s no way we’re missing it (B quit napping this month!).

There’s a lot to complain about in the world, but without offering solutions and opportunities for conversation and fellowship, a persons vocal grievances can easily become something for those on the receiving end to dismiss or complain about. Be active instead. When you do so, you actually become an ambassador for a better community. One way you can start is by checking out Hip-Hop Family Day's Kickstarter page and making a donation of $25, $50, $100 or $250 to help make this day of fun and community fellowship a huge success. The organizers are half-way to their goal of raising $5,000 by midnight on April 1. I know Shekeese and the other organizers would certainly appreciate it, and because I want my community to be one that embraces all the good things that diversity brings, I would be pretty appreciative, as well.