Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen Volume 7
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 02/24/2014
In 2013, I participated in Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen Volume 6. It was a program I hoped to perform in, for sometime. What sparked my interest was the solidarity among women. What I find in hip hop is a real absence of the divine feminine energy and to me, hip hop in its essence is Ma’at. In its essence hip hop is a sacred balance of the divine feminine and masculine energy. But, we don’t really see that balance. In effect, all our people out here are suffering the consequences. Whether that be single parent homes or moreover a lack of nurturance or inability to express one’s softness or vulnerability. Everybody has both a feminine and masculine side, but when we are enforced to suppress one side it’s going to have some consequences. I went through a period when I was young where all my rhymes were bulletproof. I thought I had to be tough to survive and at the time, well I did. That’s what I knew. As I grew older I wanted to learn how to be able to embrace the divine feminine in me. I wanted to learn how to be really soft and just to have that divine balance. So, to have the opportunity to come here, to an event by all females in a genre that lacks female representation, an art form that I love and a sisterhood that I need just means more to me than I can possibly say. I look forward to see what MHHK has going on this year, and it is something I definitely hope to be a part of again in the future. You definitely don’t want to miss this. Mark your calendar and hit us up to support the event!
Saylove: Peace Kathleen, Thanks for chiming with me in Hip Hop U and in The International Peace & Conflict Monitor. I really adore Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen and I had to share what you’ve shared with all of us. Can you tell me just a little bit about your background as an artist and as an advocate for women?
Kathleen: I am originally from Shaker Heights, Ohio, but moved to New York City about 8-9 years ago to attend college and graduate school, and I stayed to work. Currently I work in the field of marketing. I am very involved in my community as an activist. I am a part of the Young Women of Color Leadership Council with Advocates for Youth, where we work to educate, include, and empower other young women of color around sexual rights and reproductive justice issues. I grew up as a dancer, and still dabble in dancing a bit now 🙂
Saylove: I love dancing! I am glad to have this opportunity to get to know you and your works a little better. Can you share with us some of the artists, compositions or people, that inspire you?
Kathleen: I know this sounds trite, but my mom inspires me. She is such a trailblazer that has worked hard to break boundaries in the field of medicine, and also has been a great example of someone who can do it all. I feel that many of us women struggle with competing interests, and my mom has shown me that I can do anything that I want to do as long as I work hard, and say focused.
Saylove: That means a lot. I do remember her being at Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen last year. Peace to Kathleen’s Mom! Next Question. Do you believe that a world or nation of peace is possible and how important do you feel the role of women is in building a culture of peace?
Kathleen: I personally believe that women are the keepers of peace. For peace to spread, women need to be empowered, therefore women have a very important role in the building of a culture of peace. For peace to permeate into different groups, women need to be respected and honored.
Saylove: I like that you identified women as keepers of peace and how you related that to their empowerment and honor. Was there a particular place from where that idea took root?
Kathleen: There is not a particular space where that came from. For me, I feel that all people need to be honored. And to create a peaceful environment, I try to live my life in a way where I respect others. I know this sounds corny, but I believe in the golden rule “treat others as you would like to be treated”, and that is how you create a world where peace exists. I am not perfect. I am working everyday to get better, but by holding myself accountable for my actions is a good way to promote peace!
Saylove: Indeed. Thanks for sharing that. What do you think about femininity vs. masculinity in terms of hip hop culture and what if anything do you feel hip hop needs to be more balanced?
Kathleen: I honestly hate labels. But I also understand how labels are necessary at the same time. Labels are often used in hip-hop. I often times think that the lyrics between male hip-hop artists and female hip-hop artists are similar, but it seems that men in hip-hop pick up more attention than female rappers in the game. I feel that hip-hop needs to be more pure and less about materialism. That doesn’t relate necessarily to being male or female, but I feel that men in the hip-hop world are portrayed as more materialistic.
Saylove: I agree with that, in regards to female emcees of the same caliber being less readily accepted. I think because it is male dominated that male performances have simply come to be expected. Females more often gotta have a strong support to get far. Which leads us to, what sparked Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen and what did you envision it would be when it all started?
Kathleen: Lah and I met at the US Social Forum in 2007. We both were very engaged in the arts and feminism. Both of us are artists in the reproductive justice movement, and we wanted to create a safe space where we could talk about reproductive justice issues and other social justice issues, and bring attention to the climbing rates of HIV/AIDS in communities of color, while putting on a family-friendly all women’s showcase. At the time I was interning with PEP (The Pro-Choice Public Education Project), and they encouraged me to go after my dream of putting on this showcase. With their support, Lah Tere and I threw the first Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen in 2008, and we have never looked back since!
You can tell our branding is different from Vol. 1 (2008) to Vol. 2 (2009) and going forward. When we were looking at spaces for our first year, we thought only 75 people would come, and over 500+ people came. From there we realized something special was going on and we had to continue, but in a bigger space. So we started having different themes and focuses for each year. We thought it was going to be a one time event. Now we are in year 7 and we have also done college tours and workshops as well.
Saylove: Dope! Where is Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen at today and can you tell us where you would like to see it go in the next 5-10 years?
Kathleen: I would love to get MHHK into year 10 with our annual event. I also would love for us to do more colleges tours and workshops. I would also like to take us on an international tour, and record an album. There is so much we want to do, but we need the help. What is really exciting is that some of the young people who began with us, such as NeNe Ali, she is helping us with the organizing of our event now and even taking on the responsibility of hosting, which is very exciting!
Saylove: Wow. To think it really is in its 7th year. What themes has Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen featured over the past years and how were you able to identify these particular themes as important to the women within our communities, specifically?
Kathleen: For Volume 1 (2008), our focus was on reproductive justice. We didn’t have a tagline that year because we didn’t know that we were going to continue with other events in the future. Volume 2 (2009) focused on “Faith, Feminism and Hip-Hop” and how women used faith to overcome issues in their lives. Volume 3 (2010) was “Back to Our Roots, Environmental Justice, Education Equality” and had a green theme. For Volume 4 (2011) the theme was “Let’s Get Active” and focused on health disparities that affect women of color. For Volume 5 (2012) the theme was “Be the Cure” and focused on different types of cancer that impact communities of color. For Volume 6 (2013) the theme was “No Limits…Knowledge is Power!” and honored the 45th anniversary of the existence of Hostos Community College.
Saylove: Thank you. What are a few things you learned or a few of the things that were born out of these past 6 years of Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen? What positive growths have come out of MHHK personally and/or collectively since 2008?
Kathleen: We have learned that there is a real need for female-centric events in terms of women in the arts, especially with hip-hop. We have learned that grassroots artists can draw a crowd of over 1000 people each year. We have also learned that our volunteers are the best. We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers and artists that have been with us for over 7 years. We are able to create the safe space because of the generosity of others.
Saylove: What is the theme of Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen Volume 7? Why is this theme so crucial in this hour of the 40th year of hip hop culture?
Kathleen: This year’s theme is “Celebrating Sisterhood”. Too often the accomplishments of women are not recognized or celebrated, but this year we want all of the focus to be on the amazing bond that we women have.
Saylove: What does Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen Volume 7 have in store for us this year? Who are some of the artists on the line up?
Kathleen: This year we have so many new artists that we are excited to introduce to the public. Our long-time DJ and friend, DJ Jasmine Solano was unable to make it this year, and she recommended that we use DJ Quiana Parks. I am personally inspired by her because she is a multifaceted DJ who also paints. I think she is great role model for young girls and I am excited to bring her into the MHHK family this year! This year we also have another surprise. I grew up as a dancer, but haven’t danced in a while. This year I will be performing with Rokafella and her break-dancers. I am very excited about this!
Saylove: Ooooh! Now I really gotta come out! What’s the date, time and venue of Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen and where can our readers go for more information as well as to support the movement?
Kathleen: Momma’s Hip Hop Kitchen, Vol. 7: Celebrating Sisterhood! Saturday, March 1st, 2014 @ the Hostos Center for Arts and Culture 450 Grand Concourse (at 149th St.) Bronx, NY (Main Theater) Time: 2-5pm This event is FREE and open to all ages. For more information about the event, please wisit our website @ http://www.mhhk.org (or) email firstname.lastname@example.org
Saylove: Are there any final words you’d like to share with Hip Hop U and with The International Peace & Conflict Monitor?
Kathleen: We are so honored that you have interviewed us and we hope that your readers support our event!
Saylove: Thank you Kathleen, I am looking forward to see what pops off this year as well as our collective growth and expansion through MHHK!
Bio: Check out Saylove’s new website: http://earthsaylove.asia/ and follow her on Twitter @earthsaylove