Rapper and actress Yo-Yo speaks at a press conference calling for justice for Trayvon Martin held in Los Angeles. (Malcolm Ali for Sentinel)
Rap artist, actress and activist, Yolanda “Yo-Yo” Whittaker speaks on Trayvon Martin, educating kids and calls for Hip-Hop artists to respond.
On Tuesday, March 27, a Black Coalition comprised of Sentinel Publisher and Bakwell CEO, Danny Bakewell Sr., The Brotherhood Crusade, LA NAACP, Nation of Islam, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and community members gathered to call for justice for Trayvon Martin. Rapper and actress, Yolanda Whittaker aka Yo-Yo, added to the clarion call that this injustice wouldn’t go unchallenged.
“[It’s] my [duty] to fight this cause with our community,” said Yo-Yo. “To help bring out and motivate other hip-hop leaders to use their voice.
“We want it to stop.
“Like Brother [Tony] Muhammad was saying [today], we’re going to stop patronizing, stop buying, we’re going to start creating our own business in our own Black communities if they’re going to… continue with senseless crimes against our young, Black men.
“Something’s got to be done.
“No Justice, no peace.”
Yo-Yo spoke on how the youth could use their power to ignite a change in their communities. She feels youth should become more proactive in addressing situations that directly affect them.
“If ever you question when there is a time to stand, when you want to know when to fight, when to let your voice be heard, when to create a protest, when to walk out and say no more—situations like this,” said Yo-Yo.
“The senseless murder of this young boy based on his race— based on racial profiling—this is when you stand.
“Pay attention to what’s going on in the world, because it’s happening everywhere.
“It’s more than [materialism] and school— there is a world out there that we live in and things we have to come up against.
Our ancestors have been fighting for this forever. Pay attention.
“Like I tell my kids, here is the time to stand.”
Yo-Yo is also calling for the hip-hop community to become more proactive in the issues. She feels that artist today don’t truly understand their power and influence to create positive outcomes.
“It really doesn’t cost money nowadays to get the right PR [public relations] to send a message to America that we won’t stand for injustice of our people,” said Yo-Yo.
“This is a billion-dollar industry. We got more than a couple of moguls who are close to being billionaires themselves. When I say we are the majority. We are the popular music.
“We are changing the world. You have to take a stand.
“There is no more waiting on your mother and father—you are the frontier now. The responsibility is ours.
“Hip-Hop is not a baby anymore. It’s 30-years- old.
“I’d like to see Lil’ Wayne… I’d love to hear Drake… I’d love to see Dr. Dre… I’d love to see Ice Cube… we don’t have that hip-hop political party like we used to when I was coming up.
“If Public Enemy was hear… let me tell you, we wouldn’t even having this…I would be standing with them.
“Hip-Hop… we have a responsibility.”
Yo-Yo has a Hip-Hop school called Yo-Yo’s School of Hip-Hop. She works with the inner city youth in Los Angeles. She is using her experience and skills to not only build talent but educate and promote positive activity. Based in the Fernando Pullum Community Art Center, they’re also at the new youth center off of Florence and Vermont.
“You got to understand your power,” said Yo-Yo. “You got to understand your words—words have power.
“I teach that to the kids at my Hip-Hop school.”
The most important point Yo-Yo stressed was her involvement in issues like Martin’s killing. She stated that she takes her voice and power seriously. She expects everyone else to do the same.
“We’ve been fighting for change all our lives,” said Yo-Yo. “All I know is, the people with power, such as myself—I believe… a lot can happen.
“I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. All I know is—I have to show up. I have to let my voice be heard.
“I’m going to inform, I’m going to educate, I’m going to be a part of my community. I’m going to make difference.
“I’m saving lives… I’m teaching the kids integrity, fearlessness, confidence— [but] I’m demanding something in return.
I’m demanding that you sit up straight, speak with confidence, look in a person’s eyes, you calm down, you smile, you have poise.
“I’m teaching them now, as an adult in hip-hop, as a legend of hip-hop, that yeah—it matters.”