Hip Hop Think Tank event to bring attention to deportation, incarceration

More than 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the U.S. each year, and nearly 2 million immigrants have been incarcerated since the beginning of the Obama administration in 2008, according to The Sentencing Project and Pew Research Center.

These facts and more will be discussed in depth at the “Bridging the Gaps: Hip-Hop in the Age of Mass Incarceration and Deportation” conference this Thursday and Friday.

CSUN’s own Hip-Hop Think Tank, a student organization partnered with the Pan African studies department, will be hosting the conference in an effort to draw parallels between incarceration and deportation.

“At present, the United States has the largest prison population in the world…(and) deportations have intensified over the last decade,” said Anthony Ratcliff, Pan African studies professor and Hip-Hop Think Tank faculty advisor. “In fact, since 2008, after President Obama’s election, two million undocumented immigrants have been deported.

The conference includes the participation of influential artists, speakers and activists such as keynote speaker Elaine Brown, former leader of the Black Panther Party, and Boots Riley, a hip-hop artist and activist.

“In addition to there being a similarity between the number of people incarcerated in federal, state, and local prisons and immigration detention centers, many of the prisons and detention centers are being privatized…(and) locking people up in prison and immigration detention centers now has profit motive since it stands to make prison corporations large sums of money,” Ratcliff said.

Though the conference is open to all who wish to attend, organizers are asking for donations of at least $10. All proceeds will go toward the Jusdeep Singh Sethi Memorial Scholarship, a CSUN student and Hip-Hop Think Tank organizer who died last semester. Everyone who registers and makes a donation will receive admissions to the film festival Thursday evening, the catered lunch and open mic performances on Friday, as well as a t-shirt, a tote bag and other conference materials.

“Bridging the Gap was something that (Jusdeep) did personally in life, (and) was also something he demonstrated in his major,” said Justin Marks, an organizer for the Hip-Hop Think Tank. “He showed passion for social justice and also to knowledge in general. This is very much in his spirit and this scholarship will go toward his legacy.”

Attendees will be provided lunch and an evening snack, in addition to a breakfast and registration meet and greet Friday morning.

To register for the conference and donate toward the Jusdeep Singh Sethi Memorial Scholarship, visit Hip-Hop Think Tank online.