Poet's Statement: Nikki Giovanni

The reason, or at least one of the reasons, I am so proud of being invited to participate with “RECOGNIZE!” is that the hip hop nation is wonderful. Surely there are those who would demonize this group of young people, but they are only doing what our ancestors have always done: used what they have to get where they need to go.

This is the first generation to have everything yet to also have had everything taken away. They went to school with no books, no gym, no school play, no school newspaper, no band, no clean toilets, no grass on the playground, no hope in the eyes of their teachers.

Yet they created. They created art, music, textiles, and technology and made their world the world the world comes to. No matter how annoying it is to some older, wealthier comedians the younger generation has gone on its way: largely without encouragement from an adult world; frequently with barriers thrown up for them to hurdle.

But they have hurdled, huddled, banded together and brought their voices out. I am proud that they draw on the history of hope. The blood in their veins runs true. It is not a just world. We were not able to hand over peace, prosperity, and love. But just because we couldn’t didn’t indicate a time for despair. The younger generation has said “Thank you,” and they are moving on. Hip hop is a train. We had just better reserve our ticket. They are pulling out of the station. It will be a wonderful ride.

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