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Not only in order to grasp the structures of domination in their historical genesis and contradictory development which foreshadows their dissolution, but also in order to help constitute the true historical consciousness of the new social agency.This essay is my attempt to write about Filipino American hip-hop from a historical materialist perspective with the deeper understanding that hip-hop is an art form that was created “for the people.” I begin with an analysis of hip-hop and its absorption into a culture of capitalism. Second, I claim that, for Filipino American hip-hop to effectively resist its co-optation, it must revive the anticapitalist and antiracist perspectives embodied in the cultural work Carlos Bulosan.
I argue that its absorption has not occurred in a vacuum but is actually related to a larger weakness of U. Lastly, I look at Filipino American hip-hop artists Native Guns as a timely case study.
I show that their music continues the long history of Filipinos in America who use their cultural work to resist and challenge structures of exploitation, domination, and an ideology of racism.
“Filipino writers in the Philippines [and the United States] have a great task ahead of them, but also a great future. They should rewrite everything written about the Philippines and the Filipino people from the materialist, dialectical point of view — this being, the only [way] to understand and interpret everything Philippines.” — Carlos Bulosan In his essay “The Writer as Worker,” Carlos Bulosan expressed the inexhaustible material that could be written on the subject of Filipinos as products of two distinct but intersecting histories (the Philippines and the United States).
He stressed that this subject should always be written from a historical materialist perspective and “for the people, because the people are the creators and appreciators of culture.” A historical materialist orientation rejects the notion that U. history is comprised of unique, accidental, and unpredictable events resulting from conflicting desires in human beings.
The glory days of hip-hop were during the 1980s, when working-class communities of color were devastated by the Reagan administration’s “trickle-down” policies that abetted police brutality and racial profiling.
Artists such as KRS-One, Public Enemy, even gangster rappers like N. A (Niggas with Attitudes) were creating tracks that portrayed realities of Reaganism such as the phenomenon of youth moving from overcrowded and under-funded schools to overcrowded and well-funded prisons.
The capitalist class controls the means of production, and therefore this small group of people are the direct beneficiaries of the wealth created.
Such an approach to history is crucial to understanding Filipino migration and Filipinos’ position as an internal colony in the United States.
Omitted from the psyche of Filipino Americans by schools, the media, and other state apparatuses, however, is the critical understanding that there is a deep tradition of resistance that unites Filipino cultural work with activism.
Reconnecting to this history and linking the common struggles and inspirations of Filipino immigrants during the “golden years” of U. capitalism (1945-1973) won’t lead to a revival of the more radical movements witnessed in the 1960s.