Largely thanks to Black millennial activists on social media, people of all walks of life are becoming increasingly aware of the ways systemic inequality affects many realms of life — whether we’re talking about access to quality education and healthy food, or the prison-industrial complex and police brutality. Rapper and activist Int’l Hay Sús decided to put his energy towards creating tangible steps for change for the Black community in his native East Oakland after graduating from Howard University in 2015. After researching the Black Panthers’ hands-on community service projects in Oakland neighborhoods in the Sixties and Seventies, he founded the community service collective The Black Neighborhood with a group of his childhood friends, many of whom are artists themselves.
The Black Neighborhood started in early 2016, and most of its endeavors so far have centered on feeding and clothing those in need. The group has an ongoing partnership with the People’s Missionary Baptist Church (8825 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland), where it has hosted giveaways of fresh produce and kitchen essentials, clothing, and shoes for everyone who stopped by.
As wealth inequality becomes increasingly pronounced in Oakland, many up-and-coming local artists have been rallying for social change through their music. But what sets Hay Sús apart is his drive to turn the messages in his art into reality. And while his projects might be small-scale for now, we’re seeing the first steps of him galvanizing other young people to work together to find solutions for the issues facing their communities. Follow Haysus510 on SoundCloud.