Opinion

Kendrick Lamar: next great social activist

In the midst of a generation caught in racial crossroads, Americans of all ethnicities, social classes and demographic backgrounds have sat and waited for the next social activist to emerge from the shadows of men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. We as a society have not seen anyone even in the same league as those men – perhaps excepting individuals like Oprah Winfrey or the late great Tupac Shakur – in the past 15-20 years. The question is raised as tensions and conflicts escalate: When will the wait for the next great social activist be over?

Last January, we may have gotten our answer in the emergence of Compton-raised hip-hop icon Kendrick Lamar. With the release of his third studio-recorded album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” we got a glimpse into this lyrical genius’s ability to use his power and influence in the music world productively to address our generation’s most controversial issues. Lamar does not back away, but rather steps up to the plate and addresses the political, economic and most importantly, social issues plaguing our country head-on. His album was released amidst the social justice movement that unfolded after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

Two weeks ago, at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, we were reminded by the splash Lamar made at the awards of his continued acceptance and embrace of his label as the “next great activist” for social and civil rights among lower and middle-class minorities. Once again, he did not back away, but rather confronted the real issues of our society, especially relating to the continued discrimination toward African Americans in our current American institutions. He made a statement by performing his hit songs, “Alright” and “The Blacker the Berry,” in a prison jumpsuit and chain-ganged with others following in suit behind him.

In addition to this revolutionary performance and historic year in music for Lamar, he leaves us with a much more important problem to consider – a problem based around the idea that inequality is still prevalent in our society today and that discrimination is still at the forefront of our world. The answer to this problem, Lamar promotes, is giving back to low and middle-class citizens worldwide and in places like his hometown of Compton, California. He spreads the idea that until we learn that we are put on this planet to love and accept each other, we will never be able to move forward successfully as a society. I’m not sure whether Kendrick Lamar is the next legendary, transcending social activist in our generation yet, but his actions sure do show his drive and willingness to take on the role.

Featured image courtesy Flickr user NRK P3

February 28, 2016

Reporters

Parker Lee


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It could be a fruitful year for the Miami Hurricanes in the 2019 NFL Draft. NFL Draft analyst Mel Ki ...

A quick six-pack off UM coach Manny Diaz’s conversation with Joe Zagacki and Don Bailey Jr. on WQAM’ ...

UM was very fortunate that junior linebackers Shaquille Quarterman, Mike Pinckney and Zach McCloud a ...

Hard Rock Stadium will be filled with Miami fans — and probably only Miami fans — when the two colle ...

They made school history on Sunday with a nationally-televised road upset of No. 2 Louisville, and o ...

UM public health experts try to help tackle Venezuela’s ongoing health care crisis. ...

The Ring Theatre’s contemporary reworking of Molière’s “The Misanthrope” showcases the skills of UM’ ...

Miami Law’s Frances Hill answers key questions about the National Emergencies Act. ...

Researcher Rebecca Bulotsky Shearer is leading a study aimed at increasing the number of kids who ar ...

UM alumna Alina Mayo Azze, who has covered a myriad of topics during her 37-year career, has been a ...

The Hurricanes will wrap up a four-game homestand with a midweek game against FAU on Wednesday at 6 ...

The No. 14 Miami women's basketball team is set to cap its longest road stretch of the season T ...

The No. 25-ranked University of Miami golf team closed out the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegi ...

The University of Miami swimming & diving team begins its run at the 2019 ACC Swimming & Div ...

For the second week in a row, the Miami women's basketball team made the largest leap of any sc ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.