NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. hip-hop community is using its bullhorn to bring awareness and money to the battle against the coronavirus as data shows that African-Americans are dying at a disproportionately high rate.
The New York City-based Universal Hip Hop Museum and entertainment company Mass Appeal will host a “Hip Hop Loves NY” livestream on Thursday to honor frontline healthcare workers.
“We can turn the tide in our community,” said rapper Ice-T, who will be taking part along with rappers Chuck D, Nas, Kurtis Blow, Biz Markie, and Kid N Play.
“Be like, yo, you ain’t got on your mask. You out here playing around the streets... they say, somebody who has the coronavirus and isn’t telling anybody. That’s like the guy who got bit by a zombie and hides the bite,” he added.
Data from Louisiana, Illinois and Michigan earlier this month showed that African-Americans are dying at a much higher rate than the U.S. population at large. Black Americans are more likely to have heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, and less access to healthcare..
Vinnie Brown, a member of rap group Naughty By Nature, revealed he experienced COVID-19 symptoms in March when he lost his sense of taste and smell.
“I do see our community mobilizing right now. Everyone’s talking about health regimens. Everyone’s talking about changing their diets. Everyone is talking about just changing for the better,” he said.
Rapper Roxanne Shante is looking forward to not only performing, but also watching as a fan.
“I’m gonna get a chance to sit back and see my hip hop brothers and sisters do their thing,” she said.
Organizers said funds raised will be donated to SOMOS Community Care, a network of over 2,500 healthcare providers in New York City, and The Bronx Community Relief Effort.
Reporting by Alicia Powell; Editing by Michael Perry