If you are a person who has ever been incarcerated, or if you are a person who communicates with incarcerated folks by phone with any kind of regularity, you are likely familiar with the voice that hovers over the start of these interactions, reminding you that the call is being…

How I Got Radicalized

As a child, I knew Radio Raheem died but not how. Only later did I realize a trash can through a window was a reasonable response.

Spike Lee on the set of his film ‘Do the Right Thing’
Photo illustration, source: Anthony Barboza/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Welcome to How I Got Radicalized, a new series at GEN that tells a story about a cultural moment that made you drastically rethink how society works.

I was 10 or 11 when I first watched Do the Right Thing, decidedly too young to sit through Spike Lee’s 1989 film…

After so many months of casualties, the only deaths we talk about are the ones that carry a message

Chadwick Boseman. Photo: Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

In the early months of the pandemic, in an effort to pace myself when consuming the torrent of news, I allowed myself to read the charts only once a day. Every night before bed, I would dive in, studying the latest case counts and death tolls. I would spend nearly…

From Lil Baby to Megan Thee Stallion, rap has defined the activism — and uncertainty — of the Trump era

Noname performing at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, 2017. Photo: PYMCA/Getty Images

It is 2020, and the patience of the people has worn thin. This is true on many fronts, including in our growing ambivalence toward the idea of celebrity. Popular culture will never be entirely free of its obsession with fame, but particularly during the pandemic, there has been a frustration…

A new series from GEN looks at how we can reconcile our organizing lives with our working lives

Photo illustration. Sources: Brooke Fasani Auchincloss, Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images

As I have been putting together “The Uprising Marches On,” GEN’s package on what’s next for the movement for Black lives, I have been finding myself explaining to people more and more how I distinguish between my work as a writer and my work as an organizer. For the latter…

Violence is only permissible here when it’s state-sanctioned

Police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 29, 2020. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

I find myself once again struggling with the American definition of violence. With who gets to define what violence is, and what it looks like. Some of this is because violence is so often discussed only as action, and not inaction: Protesters in the streets, but not institutional neglect. Violence…

In 1988, the legend took the stage at the Grammys not to accept an award, but to give one — and to demand what he deserved

Photo: Ron Galella/Getty Images

In the late 1980s, Little Richard became a sought-after guest in movies and on television shows — a reversal of sorts after a long, difficult period. The bulk of the ’70s had been hard on the legend; the rock and roll revival circuit didn’t take well to him, and as…

With the deaths of Ellis Marsalis, Adam Schlesinger, and John Prine, I’m left wondering whether music really can help us heal

Photo sources: Ebet Roberts/Getty Images, Rich Fury/Getty Images, Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images

Over the past month, I have found myself relying on the warmth of familiar music. As bad news accumulates, I am returning to the records of my past — ones where I can identify every drum flourish and every guitar bend. I am craving the predictability of known sounds, at…

Hanif Abdurraqib

Poet. Writer. | Poetry editor @MuzzleMagazine | Author of The Crown Ain't Worth Much & They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us. | Ohioan

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