For many years, various advocacy groups and politicians have been in an uproar over the music being created by the hip hop generation. These much maligned and often misunderstood individuals, typically African Americans between the ages of 15 and 38, have been on the receiving end of harsh criticism far and wide. The level of attention given to this genre of music begs the question, “So what’s the big deal?”

African Americans who are part of the hip hop generation are shouldering responsibility for some not-so-flattering statistics. For example, between 1977 and 1999, African American men and women accounted for 43% of intimate partner homicides-a figure that represents nearly 4 times the rate of African Americans in the general population. For black women, the statistics are even more horrifying. While black women make up only 8% of the U.S. population, they account for more than a third of domestic homicides. In the face of such daunting statistics, can we make the argument that hip hop music substantially influence the violent behaviors of a generation characterized as males who are thugs and females who are sexual objects? The short answer is not necessarily.

When reported in the media, hip hop music is depicted as a genre that glorifies violence and demeans women. This imagery is sold as an all encompassing look at what the hip hop generation has to offer. But not all hip hop music is as salacious as the media would have us believe. And what about other forms of music? Is hip hop just a scapegoat for what America ‘s families find detestable in an increasingly violent world?

The August 2004 forum, Domestic Violence and the Hip Hop Generation, delved into challenges that are creating barriers to positive facets of the hip hop movement. The forum further explored the potential of hip hop music as a vehicle through which to mitigate the violence facing this generation. I encourage you to keep an open mind about a musical genre that has-for better or worse- made a lasting impression on our culture. Focus on the positive energies that can be harnessed to bring about change, because at the end of the day, we’ll need to have all segments of the population on board – including the hip hop generation – if we are to end the violence that is destroying the fabric of America.