SF State’s Poetry Center and the Longmore Institute on Disability co-hosted Krip-Hop Nation, an activist group of musicians with disabilities via Zoom on Saturday. The event was made accessible through use of an ASL interpreter and closed captioning.
The two-hour event featured Krip-Hop Nation co-founders Leroy F. Moore Jr. and Keith Jones, along with group members Toni Hickman, DJ Quad and Wheelchair Sports Camp’s Kayln Heffernan. The event started with a short documentary video by Cameron Clark about the group, and transitioned to a conversation with the members of Krip-Hop Nation, a performance from each of the artists and ended with a Q&A. The event was moderated by SF State’s associate professor of anthropology, Dawn-Elissa Fischer, who specializes in Black popular culture and hip-hop.
Krip-Hop Nation is an Oakland-based activist group that was founded over 15 years ago by Black activists Moore, Jones and the late Rob Da’ Noize Temple. Both Moore and Jones have cerebral palsy, a condition that affects muscle coordination. It was this shared experience and their love for music that gave birth to Krip-Hop Nation.
Krip-Hop Nation is a network of artists from all over the world with physical and mental disabilities, and their goal is to raise awareness about the disabled community through music.
“Krip-Hop is more than music. Krip-Hop is activism, education, awareness, advocacy, standing up and being proud of who you are. I’m a part of Hip-hop culture”, Moore said.
According to Clark’s documentary video, disabled musicians are frequently discriminated against in not just their daily lives, but in the music community as well. Krip-Hop Nation seeks to bridge the gap and has given many musicians with disabilities a community when the abled-bodied world fails to create an inclusive space for all artists.
Jones, Krip-Hop Nation co-founder and president and CEO of SoulTouchin’ Experiences — an organization focused on community empowerment and systemic policy change for persons with and without disabilities — expressed how he struggled to be taken seriously as an artist because of his disability.
“I kept running into people saying, ‘Your music’s dope, its fire,’ and all that. But I mean, they’d say they don’t know how to market someone with cerebral palsy,” Jones said. Jones, who has limited use of his hands, uses his feet to mix his own beats.
Krip-Hop Nation has several things planned for the next year, such as the Krip-Hop Institute, a streaming service called “The Channel” and a new EP. Saturday’s Krip-Hop Nation event is just the beginning of events centered around disability visibility this year, Poetry Center Director Steve Dickison said. The Poetry Center and the Poetry Coalition have committed to hosting events that put artists with disabilities in the spotlight.
“Today’s event is one of many that will be taking place throughout the United States from March until July 2022,” Dickison said. “The Poetry Coalition is a collective of poetry organizations that stretches across the country, and we are all presenting programs this spring and early summer under the collective heading ‘The future lives in our bodies: Poetry & Disability Justice.’”
The Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, which co-hosted Saturday’s event, also has events centered around disability visibility planned for the future.
Future events for the Poetry Center and the Longmore Institute on Disability can be found at poetry.sfsu.edu/events and longmoreinstitute.sfsu.edu/.