Disabled Lives Matter
Season 1, Episode 28
Co-Hosts: Nadine Vogel & Norma Stanley
Guest: Khafre Jay
Intro: [Music playing in background] Disabled Lives Matter... here we go!
Voiceover: Hello and welcome to this week's episode of the disabled lives matter podcast with co-hosts Nadine Vogel and Norma Stanley… yay!
NORMA STANLEY: Greetings everyone I am norma stanley and you're listening to disabled lives matter and my co host nadine vogel couldn't be here today, but we are so excited to be speaking with Mr Khafre Jay, am I pronouncing your name right. Khafre.
Khafre Jay: My dad put the strong E on the end of it.
NORMA STANLEY: Oh, okay.
Khafre Jay: It's K-A-U-F-R-E-E, like coffee.
NORMA STANLEY: Okay, like coffee but K-A-U-F-R-E-E. Okay.
Khafre Jay: Yeah, yeah.
NORMA STANLEY: I'm bad at pronounciations, but.
NORMA STANLEY: You know he is the executive director and founder of hip hop for change and um he you know, has an amazing organization and.
NORMA STANLEY: Actually, as an initiative dealing with mental health and we want to have a discussion with him about mental health in the black community because what disabled lives matters is all about is.
NORMA STANLEY: You know the intersectionality of black lives matter and people with disabilities, they matter to, and we want to make sure that people.
NORMA STANLEY: understand.
NORMA STANLEY: The viability and the opportunity and the significance of both these communities and how they intersect in many ways and one of those ways is mental health and how we are treated.
NORMA STANLEY: People with disabilities and black people in general.
NORMA STANLEY: Have health issues or mental health issues that.
NORMA STANLEY: they're not recognizing or.
NORMA STANLEY: You know when they do recognize it it's past the point when they should have done something so we want to talk about today with you and i'm so excited to meet you.
NORMA STANLEY: And to learn about what you've been doing them i'm very impressed with your work, I did a little research and check out a couple of videos and like I said, if I love the tedx talk and your talk on food justice cause that is a real situation, you can.
NORMA STANLEY: And you know Robin Hood tax, I mean we can have a little conversation about all of that.
Khafre Jay: yeah.
NORMA STANLEY: You know let's talk about mental health and the black Community because that's a real situation.
NORMA STANLEY: um you stated some facts, and some of these facts I already know, but you know, but I want you to if you have any I can I can put some out here, and you can send it to you, I mean you know have you talk about it but 20% of African Americans are more likely to experience mental health issues.
Khafre Jay: yeah.
NORMA STANLEY: Go ahead.
Khafre Jay: No, no, go ahead go ahead I didn't mean to lean in.
NORMA STANLEY: Basically and that's true, and one of the things that you mentioned in a post that you made recently I didn't even realize is that um.
NORMA STANLEY: You know well that's not true, I didn't realize it I just never really it never hit me until I saw it in in
NORMA STANLEY: Writing I guess that the African American children are a more likely than other children to.
NORMA STANLEY: have experienced violence and impacts their their mental health as a as they grow up and I grew up in East Harlem Spanish Harlem New York.
NORMA STANLEY: And I saw violence all around me as I grew up I grew up in the hood basically, I never thought about it, when I was 16 I was 16 I might have been 15.
NORMA STANLEY: We lived in the projects and I heard, what I thought were firecrackers so as I went to look out at the people because we lived on the first floor and all I could see was like the lightning of the gun.
Khafre Jay: Yeah.
NORMA STANLEY: They were shooting somebody, I don't know who was I found out, the person who got shot was later, it was a friend of the brother of a friend of mine uh but you know right after that my mother said, we are leaving. I'm gonna get you up out of here.
NORMA STANLEY: Um so I saw a lot of it my mother coming from the Caribbean my mother kept us kind of sheltered.
NORMA STANLEY: So we didn't get we didn't we weren't out didn't get involved in any of that stuff but I saw it.
Khafre Jay: Yeah.
NORMA STANLEY: Um you know I think you're right.
NORMA STANLEY: To see that kind of thing all the time, definitely will impact your mental health, I mean.
NORMA STANLEY: Can't event imagine.
NORMA STANLEY: Can you speak a little bit about what you know. Of that.
Khafre Jay: Yeah, yeah you know I mean We grew up in very similar situations, I grew up in the Hunter's Point San Francisco a spot that's definitely not on the tourist map.
Khafre Jay: Even though we have the oldest Opera House west of the Mississippi.
Khafre Jay: But um yeah you know violence was a part of my life and.
Khafre Jay: You know i'm really new to this mental health game, you know i'm really new to this activism game matter of fact, I started my progression even understanding patriarchy as deep as I do now, when I started hip hop for change, you know.
Khafre Jay: starting a social justice org that's rooted in egalitarian practices with a bunch of really bad as activists women around you and and queer folks like i've been coming into my own.
Khafre Jay: learning what our Community really needs you know and learning my Community better than I ever have and that's why I've been stepping into this mental health sphere.
Khafre Jay: Because I just realized that I have ptsd you know i'm saying for the last few years and I grew up in that, and I was beaten up at gunpoint twice by the S-F-P-D before I was 17.
Khafre Jay: You know first day I cashed my first paycheck and then three friends work for the SF league urban gardens and we went to the bank, at the same time to cash our checks and somebody said these 15 year old black men are robbing the bank.
NORMA STANLEY: Oh, no.
Khafre Jay: And so I, yeah so I know what the SFPD looks like when they think you're robbing a bank.
NORMA STANLEY: Yes.
Khafre Jay: It's very violent, but I also grew up around a lot of violence, you know what I'm saying I also grew up with a lot of the other issues in the black and brown community.
Khafre Jay: out here, and you know I just learned this statistic when I started hip hop for change that 30% of kids in oakland have been diagnosed with ptsd by the CDC in 2012, and this is real, you know and.
Khafre Jay: One of the things we've done with our education program is to make sure that all our teachers are trauma informed.
Khafre Jay: And that's really, really important if we talk about the ways the school to prison pipeline, you know metastasizes.
Khafre Jay: it's in the way these teachers view these kids view them as defiant rather than you know going through some issues you know i'm saying so I really feel like.
Khafre Jay: The one thing that the White supremacy does to black and brown peoples and puts us on edge, it puts us in survival mode cortisol fight or flight all this other stuff.
Khafre Jay: But it also it also changes the way that people view us right through this white supremacist lens stereotypes, it's even worse when you look hip hop right.
Khafre Jay: Now you know and your number one media representations are that of the stereotypes that suburban white men who, by 75% of hip hop they want to see about us, you what I'm saying.
Khafre Jay: As it's always been the case so you have a lot of kids growing up in violence right there also some of them are hungry.
Khafre Jay: Right, some of them are vitamin D deficient.
Khafre Jay: You know what i'm saying, which also helps to lessens your mental health.
Khafre Jay: Excuse me, but.
Khafre Jay: But you know I think I think the ways in which we view these black and brown kids is not through a lense of empathy and the lens of their own humanity we've viewed them as what we've been conditioned by.
Khafre Jay: And that exacerbates mental health that sends kids to the prison through the schools and it manifests in every social interaction that our young black and brown kids especially who are hip hop culture deal with today.
Khafre Jay: And so I started this nonprofit and it's built off of grassroots street team model I was the first black coordinator for Greenpeace I ran their entire Bay area fundraising team and I took that model.
Khafre Jay: And I meshed it with hip hop, so in that time we can pull it over 900 people with the grassroots job wearing this in white supremacy T shirt in the full white spaces.
Khafre Jay: Talking about race having about 30 to 50 conversations a day and it gets hectic. We talked to a lot of really beautiful people, but we also get cussed out.
Khafre Jay: We also do called the "N" word.
NORMA STANLEY: That's pathetic.
Khafre Jay: Oh yeah it comes out of them, you know what I'm saying.
Khafre Jay: But you know I realized quickly that when you have the only brown diverse grassroots canvas team.
Khafre Jay: You got to deal with some different things you know i'm saying you got to deal with the issues from these communities and one of that is mental health.
Khafre Jay: And i'm saying one of that is realizing that the reason why people are late sometimes is not just because they don't care you know what I'm saying they might be dealing with other things you know and, but I think I think out what is the statistic i'm trying to remember.
Khafre Jay: there's about there's about 16% of black people that report, having mental illness.
Khafre Jay: Yes, I think that is a low number I think it's probably under reported to be quite honest.
NORMA STANLEY: I agree.
Khafre Jay: Yeah and so we're working with this beautiful diverse grassroots street team and i've got people on my team who have disorders or have different mentalities bipolar disorder or whatnot i've had a person schizophrenia on my team.
Khafre Jay: And these are like these, these named illnesses that people have told me about you know what i'm saying, other than that people are just stress and stress.
NORMA STANLEY: Stress will do it.
Khafre Jay: Yeah and i'm not a therapist i'm not a psychologist.
NORMA STANLEY: I totally get it stress will do it, I ended up with epilepsy at 48 years old, adult onset epilepsy due to stress.
NORMA STANLEY: I didn't know it was under stress, I mean I was just doing what I usually do.
NORMA STANLEY: Doing everything raising my daughter with disabilities, trying to.
NORMA STANLEY: You know, build a business and running I just do a lot because that's who I am but I was putting myself under unnecessary stress I didn't realize.
Khafre Jay: yeah.
NORMA STANLEY: I'm being very particularly now, about how I take care of myself, so if it ever comes back by the grace of God i'm no longer medication for it.
Khafre Jay: Yes.
NORMA STANLEY: You know, so that hit me between 40 I would think that was 48.
NORMA STANLEY: And I was on medication for about five years and I couldn't drive and do the things that I wanted to, they take your license if you have.
NORMA STANLEY: You know, so those are things that people tend not to think about and then, when you come in situations where you know.
NORMA STANLEY: Where our young black men are being arrested and and sometimes killed because they may have you know ptsd or autism situation and sensory situations there they don't understand and the cops are not trained.
NORMA STANLEY: These things and our children are being killed as a result and so we have to address, we have to address it from every level, you know from home, all the way to the street.
NORMA STANLEY: You know this is a real thing.
Khafre Jay: I think you also bring up a really important point, you know we put the we are taught, you know as poor black people to put the world on our shoulders right.
Khafre Jay: And we have to make it through, we gotta fight a nothin promised and aint nothin given you know there aint no time to cry get up you know you gotta.
Khafre Jay: get up and punch them harder, you know we are taught to be superheroes.
Khafre Jay: And and and and and that also gets wrapped up in patriarchy a male toxicity that I also fell into, when I was 16 - 17 trying to find my power ended up gang banging a bunch, you know what i'm saying.
Khafre Jay: And going the wrong way it took me a long time of introspection and, fortunately, you know wrapping and MCing and gave me that vehicle for introspection to get out of that.
Khafre Jay: But all that is what we're dealing with we're dealing with the superhero complex and a big need for a space to just breathe and the coping mechanisms to deal with our own trauma.
Khafre Jay: And I see that coming out in people, I see that i'm dealing with a average age of 23 for our canvases.
Khafre Jay: And they're finding themselves at the age where I found myself, so I need to provide them anything I possibly can to make sure their whole intact people and that's really what i'm working with.
NORMA STANLEY: Amen we're gonna take a quick break and come right back and speak a little bit more with Mr. Khafre Jay.
Khafre Jay: right on.
Voiceover: And now it's time for a commercial break.
Hi, I'm here to talk to you about springboards. 2021, 7th annual disability connect forum, save the date. It's happening Tuesday, September 14 via live stream, you know, we tag the phrase, quote unquote, We Are Better Together. Why? Because together we can achieve change, especially since this forum focuses on the intersectionality persons with disabilities. The lgbtqa+ community and Veterans, the major issues impacting these constituents and more So join us for the conversation again, the 2021 disability connect Forum livestream, Tuesday, September 14th, to learn more. Purchase a ticket and register visit w-w-w consult springboard.com. Front slash 2021 - disability - connect Front / hashtag. Welcome. Can't wait to see you there.
Voiceover: And now back to our show.
NORMA STANLEY: Well, we were just talking about the whole you know mental health issue and and and the lack of sensitivity that people who don't understand African Americans and what the trauma they have been through and a few understand a few understand quite well you know and a few don't understand.
NORMA STANLEY: I mean, let's not even get into that conversation um.
NORMA STANLEY: But yeah like you say there the.
NORMA STANLEY: Black man is not allowed to have the vulnerability to cray and to feel and to to like you said it, that black men and black women are expected to be super people.
NORMA STANLEY: And to just deal with whatever comes your way just just deal with it and keep moving, but you know that manifest itself physically, as well as mentally it does, it has to go somewhere all that stress and all that you know trauma and it has it and then we end up with issues.
NORMA STANLEY: Sometimes physical, sometimes mental and.
NORMA STANLEY: If we don't have people to talk to if we don't have people to understand and like you say just kind of debrief at times.
NORMA STANLEY: It could cause a whole nother set of issues and our children are growing into this, so your organization tell us more about what your organization is doing and.
NORMA STANLEY: You know who are some of your supporters.
Khafre Jay: yeah you know first off I just got to break down paradigm with what we are dealing with and why, after the '96 telecommunications act.
Khafre Jay: It allowed for the corporate consolidation of mass media right now three media companies times sony and universal own 90% of the means producing hip hop.
Khafre Jay: And hip hop's culture and hip hop's depiction, they own that, and you know they're million billion dollar industries, so they only place their money on what's going to make the best bet for them to make money on.
Khafre Jay: It right now, you know 80% of the audience for hip hop is suburban white men almost you know i'm saying between 18 - 24 buys about 75% of hip hop.
Khafre Jay: And they you know, in the 80s, that was fine when fight the power was the number one song and hip hop is that beautiful bridge.
Khafre Jay: But you know the industry found out it's really difficult to sell diversity diverse culture, you know what i'm saying.
Khafre Jay: and selling a culture where people have all these cultural norms and values and rules.
Khafre Jay: They figured out these white kids don't even know what's going on, and you know the easiest things to sell in America is sex drugs and violence, you know the problem is is people can play hip hop with pure blackness you know I'm saying.
Khafre Jay: And these corporations only invest in an artist and they put them on the cover of the magazine, and they put them.
Khafre Jay: On this and they put them on hip hop dx and all the they have the whole machine to make these artists So while we have you know YouTube and tick tock.
Khafre Jay: it's about bandwidth we don't ever have the same band with the $7 billion industry has so they've taken our depiction and they've turned it into stereotypes like they've always done with black and brown people in all white and controlled media period.
Khafre Jay: The problem is, is now people believe that so our kids are being treated thusly when I walk down the street.
Khafre Jay: And I don't have my daughter with me people grab their babies and I tell them I don't eat babies i'm full you baby's safe, you know what i'm saying, because I gotta say something.
Khafre Jay: But I have the coping mechanisms to be able to deal with those interactions a lot of our kids don't nor, should they have to but regardless of scaring white folks you know what i'm saying.
Khafre Jay: Because of their internalized white supremacy, I think the biggest thing is, is that, if your hip hop culture right.
Khafre Jay: Meaning you walk it you talking it you dress it, you paint it you think it you dance it you're hip hop culture.
Khafre Jay: You should be able to have access to that culture into the cultural expression to the forums and to the economy of hip hop without being exploited by the music industry that's not FUBU, it's not for us, or by us.
Khafre Jay: So what I did is I created a non profit 501 C three Community controled platform.
Khafre Jay: To read to recreate the needs of producing hip hop for local local hip hop.
Khafre Jay: You know, we have all these artists that are so powerful and they have important narratives but they can't get people to come to their shows they don't have the budgets for them, they don't have the funding and all that.
Khafre Jay: And we lose the economy around that so we started a grassroots street team stand out there, just like Greenpeace and all them, but we flag you down say talk to me about white supremacy.
Khafre Jay: And then we talk to you about the cooperation of hip hop and the racism and oppression and the criminalization of black and brown youth through that and that's what we get most of our money from those communities that are afluent.
Khafre Jay: We have 50,000 conversations about who we are, every year we take that money back, we put into educational where we're getting local hip hop artists fingerprinted TV testing trauma informed and in the schools we taught 26,000 kids K through 12.
Khafre Jay: The history of hip hop that's rooted in peace love unity, and having fun and really letting these kids know they aint doing nothing different than their parents did their ancestors they come from an unbroken chain of excellence right.
Khafre Jay: And then we teach them how to actually wrap break dance FUBU beat and DJ and, lastly, we throw fat hip hop shows where we get big organizations like.
Khafre Jay: Greenpeace, Sierra club, to sponsor so it's free and for all ages, we just had our environmental justice seminar with black thoughts, side rock from from dead prez and.
Khafre Jay: Matthew Tejada from the office of the EPA last year we had to Ilhan Omar's daughter on our panel and we invite.
Khafre Jay: Local environmental justice orgs who want to come table and connect to these.
Khafre Jay: People who create these free all age platforms to create the economy and also to pass around important issue so we're taking the game back and we're just asking people to go to hip hop for change.org and join the fight for the culture.
NORMA STANLEY: Well, I will be one of your people. Because.
Khafre Jay: Yes, Yes.
NORMA STANLEY: Because I mean, I just love it I know anything we need to do to say take back our narrative and make sure that people understand actual power, you know, and we have to, we have to create it.
Khafre Jay: Yes.
NORMA STANLEY: We have to do it ourselves and not so much depend on anybody else to do for us do it ourselves, and I love what you are doing and I love you know I don't know if you have any disabled rappers, but.
NORMA STANLEY: You know, we've got some for you.
Khafre Jay: yeah yeah.
Khafre Jay: there's there's my man.
NORMA STANLEY: Is a place that you know.
NORMA STANLEY: And that's got a place in my heart and nadine's heart and we want to make sure our community is included.
NORMA STANLEY: So you have any artists who have disabilities.
NORMA STANLEY: In additionl to mental illness or challenges are there any that you know of do you know the mass of people I can introduce you to.
Khafre Jay: This is an amazing man, named leroy who runs a nonprofit called crip hop.
Khafre Jay: And he runs a community.
Khafre Jay: Definitely able people that are wrapping.
Khafre Jay: break dancing and doing all kinds of stuff.
Khafre Jay: yeah he's a cool cool guy and really stands up for the culture,you know what I'm saying and that's The one thing it's like people hit us up and they're like you know hip hop artists like this, and this and that like yeah because hip hop is the Community.
NORMA STANLEY: It's everything
Khafre Jay: Yeah, it's everybody like so yeah you know. You know pride SF hit us up and we got PRIDE artists, you know, we had a Spanish speaking delegation go down to El Salvador like it's you know it's nothing we hip hop is everybody, you know so yes everybody's rapping in the hood.
Khafre Jay: everybody's talking and that's the thing it's like that's why hip hop is not a fad.
Khafre Jay: And disco actually went out because disco you had to dress up and have nice clothes to go to it and whatnot you had to have a whole band, and what all this other stuff but hip hop was created by people who had nothing you know what I'm saying, and they turn nothing into everything.
Khafre Jay: Right.
Khafre Jay: And that's why I table that's why that's why it is the largest organizing cultural force that humanities ever created, it will be cool of us to take it back you know because they're rappin in the streets again, right now, the president of Thailand is rapping, they're rapping in Nambibia they're rapping everywhere.
NORMA STANLEY: Everywhere.
Khafre Jay: You know so so and that's the thing we have to understand that hip hop is not what corporations, you know, make it out to be you know we all know, taco bell you know sucks but we don't get mad at Mexican people because taco bell sucks. right.
Khafre Jay: You know what I'm saying, and I think right now we're getting mad at hip hop culture.
Khafre Jay: Because corporations don't do it right, and I know that our young kids on the ground, regardless of what intersection they're in they're still doing it the same and rapping has never changed on the ground.
Khafre Jay: And hip hop has this nugget of self affirmation, which is why there's all these marginalized communities.
Khafre Jay: falling into it, because it's one of the first time that young kids get to deal with the concept of self affirmation, no matter what, no matter how the Lord built me.
Khafre Jay: You know i'm saying I need to grab this microphone, no matter how the Lord built me i'm gonna move and i'm a rock and.
Khafre Jay: i'm a going to gig you understand, and anybody can own that space and not to mention the fact that that expression is one of the most healing things that you could possibly possibly do.
Khafre Jay: yeah I mean I could just I could proselytize all day about hip hop.
NORMA STANLEY: Well I love it I wish I wish we had more time, but i'm definitely gonna be in touch with you about some opportunities, because you know I just believe that you know there's nothing there's no coincidences it was it was meant for us to meet through Ivette Lopez and and and and we're looking forward to do.
NORMA STANLEY: What we can to help you move your your mission forward I love what your mission says to so thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be a part of disabled lives matter today and i'm looking forward to continuing the conversation.
Khafre Jay: right on Thank you all so much for having me make sure you all go to hiphopforchange.org or subscribe to our newsletter will keep up to date with the culture, what we're doing and what we need, so we can take back our culture and spread nationwide all right y'all.
NORMA STANLEY: Thank you.
Closing comment: [Music playing in background.] Thank you for listening to this week's episode of disabled lives matter. We look forward to seeing you next Thursday. Have a great week!
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