MC Lyte’s Hip Hop Sisters Foundation Aims To Combat The Cultural Assault On Black & Brown Girls

January 9, 2014  |  

Remembering the crucial role female mentors played in her own youth, Lyte had wanted to evolve the organization to support black and brown girls too. “Lynne Richardson who’s the COO of one of Russell Simmons’ foundations reached out to me,” she explained.  The women connected in April 2012 and by the end of the year, they had their 501(c)3 status to operate as a full-fledged nonprofit. Today the organization provides scholarships and internship opportunities to young women.

Lyte says Hip Hop Sisters’ mission is not only to undermine the negative, but also equip women to create new definitions of femininity and power.  Explaining the organization’s tagline — “Redefining the essence of women” — she said the board’s goal is “ trying to have one learn themselves enough to create their own definition of themselves and not be defined by anybody else’s labels or lines and boxes.”

But when it comes to breaking down boxes, the rap icon is careful to note that it has to be a collaborative cultural effort. For one, the media needs to give equal shine to rappers who are doing good work, as opposed to going for the clicks with non-stop coverage of baby mama drama and incoherent rants. “There are quite a few who are socially conscious and who use their voices. However, there’s so many more that don’t,” she notes.

However, she notes, “You have quite a few male rappers who have great foundations that speak and stand for something, but the media doesn’t publicize that as much as they do everything else.”

The community can’t leave the job to artists alone, Lyte continues. “You know, I hung out with the wrong crowd, and it wasn’t pretty, but thank goodness, for me, another woman, the dean of my school, took me up under her wing and said ‘Mhm. It’s not gonna go down like that for you.’” Lyte adds, “When I went into high school, exact same thing. … I had another teacher looking out for me, and I’m deeply appreciative to both of them because my life could have gone a different way.”

To protect our girls, women have to step in. “It’s extremely important for me to be able to give back in that way because I am a woman and I was a young girl, and I know what it means to have positive images and I know what it means not to.”

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the author of the novel Powder Necklace and founder of the blog People Who Write. Follow her on Twitter @nanaekua.


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