Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christylez on Rising Through Education

"I've been in D.C. all my life, man. I grew up on the South Side, in the Southeast quadrant. I moved to Northwest two years ago. It is a whole 'nother world over here. I tell you, it's dope living over here. The thing that makes Northwest so nice is that there is more diversity here than on the South Side. You run into Embassy people and there are more outlets to express yourself creatively. And don't get me started on the public transportation! I spent all day waiting for buses over there. Stuff stops running at times and there is no Circulator or express route near where I grew up.

"Even though I am here, I spent a lot of my time going back to the South Side. I want to bring what I learn here back there. I taught creative writing in the schools for four years on the South Side. It was dope. I'm happy I didn't have to teach formal writing because that would have been hell. I mean, I got to mix hip-hop into creative writing and use other cultural references to make it easier for kids to open up and talk about their own lives. I think that an unstructured forum is the best way to get kids talking about their lives. For me, writing and hip hop is all about bridging gaps. See, I could connect to these kids who were in similar situations to me coming up. Over time, some of the variables in the equation change, but it is the same old story of growing up in the ghetto. You always got to watch your back and do your best to rise through education.

"A lot of people don't realize that on the South Side there is going to be more crime because that it is where most of the low income housing options are. So, when you bring all these poor people together, you end up creating ghettos just like the ghettos in Nazi Germany. In this case, these are economic ghettos where people who can't afford housing are all rounded up together. Come on, you can't just put all of these people together and have them eliminate each other. I mean, if they don't kill each other then the lack of healthy food options will. I mean, Murry's Steak House, you ain't gonna never see one of those in Tenleytown or Georgetown. Only poor areas get Murry's as they are the worst freaking grocery stores. The food is, nah man, it's all genetically modified stuff and just bad for you. As you look around at a lot of these people, their health is declining and they all suffer the same health issues over time. Education is the thing that will break us out of these cycles."

Christylez is a progressive hip-hop artist. Check out his work here.

1 comment:

Braveheart said...

I moved from NW to SE 3 years ago. While I recognize there are challenges to living in River East (I write about them routinely on my blog), this has undoubtedly been the most rewarding experience of my life: bought a home, started a progressive community org, developed lifelong relationships with people far more intelligent and successful than myself. I don't need to move to NW to surround myself with influential folks. Believe it or not, embassy folks are my neighbors (alongside Ivy League grads, principals, business owners etc.)