Embracing diversity means something a little different to each of us. Who decides who belongs? What happens when you’re the one that doesn’t? Social awareness and hip hop culture are inextricably connected. The next time you enter a cypher or sign up for a battle, consider your level of awareness for not only the colors and genders that surround you, but the experience and perspectives that come along with them.
The Fountain of Youth
If hip hop emerged from the Bronx somewhere between the 60’s and 70’s, doesn’t that mean our founding brothers and sisters who inspired the music and the movement are still actively shaping the scene? Some may be grandparents and few may move a little differently than they used to, but the question remains; what can or should we be learning from this original generation?
Dance is a lifetime love affair that keeps our minds and bodies fresh. Every dancer, deserves to be seen, respected and celebrated. There is no denying that each of us is moving in the same direction on the age continuum and with that movement comes experience, lessons learned and added value. The next time the older dancer moves into the cypher, make some space, notice and learn, and always be inclusive of one another’s wisdom.
On the other side of the continuum are our brand new, baby dancers. We have all seen them winning battles and stealing hearts. Hungry to imitate excellence, kids have the physical agility to move, but may lack the maturity to navigate the culture. If you are in that in between place of not being a part of the old school crowd just yet, ask yourself what responsibility in promoting true hip hop values you may have with our youth. Modeling what matters fuels potential, for you and the young ones you influence.
The deal is, age shouldn’t matter but in the end it does. Everyone has something to contribute and it’s up to each of us to choose to honor those contributions to keep our history alive and our future hopeful. As you look back on where you came from and ahead to what’s next, decide where you fit on the continuum and define your responsibility in caring for and celebrating all members of the hip hop dance family.
By Polli Ring