On April 11, Wanawake Weusi and Rare Diamonds collaborated to host "Hip-Hop Heals: Stop the Genocide," an informational and fun event to promote awareness and activism to stop genocide in Darfur. The event, held in Edmunds Ballroom at Pomona and open to students across the 5C's and their guests, consisted of both an activism fair and a concert. Booths were set up to encourage guests to get more involved in stopping the genocide. Activities included making written pledges to educate others to become more involved, calling government representatives through 1-800-GENOCIDE, writing postcards to Congressman David Dreier (R-CA) at the Challah for Hunger table and playing a "guess who" game consisting of celebrities who have spoken out against the genocide. Volunteers from the various clubs in support of stopping genocide worked the tables at the fair, answering questions and encouraging people to get involved.
Since 2003, the region of Darfur has been immersed in conflict among the Janjaweed, the Arab government-backed militias and the Darfurian tribes. As a result of the violence, more than 400,000 people have died and 2,000,000 people have been displaced from their homes. In March, the U.S. approved the Omnibus Appropriations Act, providing about $2.1 billion for humanitarian aid, economic support and military training.
Students from the Core II class "Communities of Hate" also volunteered at the event. One student from the Core II class, Berenice Villela ('12), said: "Communities of Hate has helped me understand that apathy plagues governments and people alike. Activism is instrumental in inspiring change, although that change may come slowly and grudgingly. My involvement in Hip-Hop Heals—manning a table during the activism fair—was small, but involvement nonetheless in the fight against genocide."
The event was completely free to the public; raffle tickets, however, were sold at both the event and at Malott Commons the week prior. Guests could win various prizes from stores in the Village, including dinner for two at Casablanca, an African drum, Starbucks treats and cool artwork. Proceeds went to the Genocide Intervention Network, providing firewood to Darfurian refugees, eliminating the necessity and accompanying danger of leaving safe refugee camps to collect wood.
Throughout the night, numerous hip-hop performers, including student performers and Eathstonez, entertained the audience. The night concluded with GMK, a Seattle-based group that opened for MURS, a well-known, LA-based rapper. Wanawake Weusi member Jasmine Edo ('12) said, "MURS was an amazing performer. As a Wanawake Weusi member I was thrilled when he gave our group a shout-out. We got to have a couple interactions with him and he seemed like a really relaxed and good-natured man. I hope that his fanbase continues to grow."
Many thanks go out to Kareesha de Visser ('09) and Ti'esh Harper ('11) who spent over a year organizing the event to make the 5C community more aware of the ongoing genocide. As volunteer Adrienne Beitcher ('12) concluded, "Hip-Hop really does heal."