Of the Community, By the Community,
For the Community
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The ultimate goal of the project, called J.U.i.C.E. from
Concentrate, is to develop a manual on how to duplicate the program
in other neighborhoods, Executive Director Dawn Smith says. She
says she has received letters and e-mails from people in Compton,
Lincoln Heights and Hollywood — as well as from other parts
of the country — asking for tips on how to start similar programs.
Smith founded J.U.i.C.E. in 2001 as an outgrowth of her work as
a counselor to youths at juvenile halls. "I don't want to imply
that they all said, 'Start a hip-hop community center.' . . . (But)
L.A. has tons of community centers that are run by adults but are
not providing activities on the level that youth can identify with,"
She says her program has served more than 3,000 people, with about
100 attending each Thursday-evening drop-in at the church. Facilitators,
funded in part by an earlier grant from UCLA, informally instruct
participants in the hip-hop arts.
Smith's UCLA faculty partner for the project is Cheryl L. Keyes,
an associate professor of ethnomusicology who specializes in hip-hop
culture. "It's going to be a more sociological study in order
to assess which areas in greater Los Angeles could possibly benefit
from something like J.U.i.C.E.," says Keyes, author of the
book Rap Music and Street Consciousness.
Smith and Keyes emphasize that there's much more to hip-hop than
the rap music that has been popularized in the mainstream media,
which tends to be more profane and misogynistic than the variety
preferred at J.U.i.C.E. "Rap is something you do and hip-hop
is something you live," says Keyes, paraphrasing hip-hopper
KRS-One. "It's a culture. It's an attitude."
Susan Chapman is
assistant director of executive communications; Pamela
Corante is associate director
in the Office of Media Relations; Phil Hampton
is a senior media relations officer.