Rosa Clemente uses Hispanic Heritage Month keynote speech to blend hip-hop with culture

Puerto Rican grassroots organizer, journalist and entrepreneur Rosa Clemente spoke to about 200 people in Plachta Auditorium Monday night as the Hispanic Heritage Month keynote speaker.

“We (held) this event to embrace Hispanic heritage culture,” said D'wayne Jenkins, assistant director of cultural programming. “This is an up-and-coming Hispanic speaker. We’re trying to get the students to learn more about the culture itself.”

Throughout the speech, Clemente explored the topic of racial issues in relation to the population and politics.

“You have a resident that made a promise and was like, ‘Sorry, my bad,’” she said. “Obama and the Democratic Party know that at the end of the day, most blacks and Latinos are going to go with the Democratic Party. They take advantage of this. The job now is for people to push the president to do the right thing.”

Clemente also discussed the hip-hop generation, explaining that the culture is defined as something quite different from the common, stereotypical viewpoint.

“The reason I love hip-hop culture is because I understand what it is,” she said. “It is not rap music. The hip-hop generation is defined as black and brown babies born after 1969. It’s people coming together to stop violence, and it’s resistance. In hip-hop, we can come together and talk about race.”

The speaker described the importance of regarding the hip-hop generation with reverence.

“It’s almost 40 years old,” Clemente said. “We have to respect it.”

After the seminar, junior Melissa Scott said she learned a lot.

“I took away a lot, mostly about politics,” she said. “(Clemente) told me facts that I wasn’t aware of. I’m already toward a liberal standing. The speech made me take life more seriously, and just think about people who aren’t as well off as we are.”

Junior Kevin Reeves, a multicultural advancement scholar, said the experience was worthwhile.

“It brought a lot of the things that I already knew back to the front of my mind,” the Pinconning native said. “She definitely made me believe that the issues are more pertinent than I believed before I came.”


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