Press Conference Presented by DETV 12/16/2015
On behalf of myself and Richard Raw Productions, I would like to thank all of our supporters for standing by us during the aftermath of the unexpected events that occurred on Friday December 11, 2015. Many have spoken in regards to the events of December 11th. There has also been a news article printed in the News Journal, which we have read, concerning this issue. This is our official public statement about what occurred on December 11, 2015.
Richard Raw Productions curated an all ages hip-hop concert to be held on December 11 at Theatre N at Nemours. This concert starred Richard Raw with special performing guests from Baltimore, Washington, DC and the Wilmington area.
On November 3rd, more than 1 month before the date of the concert, Richard Raw Productions followed all protocol required by Theatre N to secure their venue. On the night of the concert, the Richard Raw Productions team arrived to Theatre N about 2 hours before the show was to begin. We set up all technical equipment, various other concert components and performed a sound check.
At 9pm, attendees of the concert began to arrive. Soon thereafter, the DJ, who used his own sound equipment not the sound system of the theater, began to play music. Between about 9:00 pm and 9:20 pm people came into the theater for the show. Sometime around 9:15 or 9:20 pm, I was pulled away from the theater by the manager of Theatre N and an unknown woman. It was at that time that I was specifically advised that the owners of the building received a complaint that my music advocated the killing of police officers. The unknown woman verbally agreed with the manager of Theatre N. This is the only complaint or issue that was explained to us. We at Richard Raw Productions were not advised the night of December 11th that there was ever a noise complaint. We were however, aware of a movie being incorrectly scheduled at a time that would overlap with our occupancy of the theater. It is to our understanding that the manager of Theatre N spoke to the moviegoers and resolved the issue of inconvenience with them. When we vacated the building it was specifically because we were being held accountable for a negative, unsubstantiated and completely untrue complaint about my music. I would like to repeat that we were never advised of any noise issue being the reason for our removal from the theater. In addition, we were completely unaware of any stipulation preventing Theatre N from having live concerts as I, Richard Raw, have participated in a live performance there in the past. Also, it was clearly understood when I submitted the contract and made payment what activity we planned to have in the theatre. In addition, the manager of the theatre remained with us the entire time we were there and found no issue with the event.
Before I alerted attendees that the concert was canceled, the manager of the theater made phone calls in a sincere attempt to resolve the issue. In one call, where she spoke to the Mayor’s Office Director of Cultural Affairs, she requested that we be able to use the Louis L. Redding City/County Building as an alternative. Despite the City/County building not being a theater and not having any amenities needed to produce a truly quality concert, we still relocated and held the concert in the lobby. Many people who arrived at Theatre N choose to go home instead of relocating to the City/County Building and many who were alerted through social media about the move decided to go home or stay home in order to avoid the chaos.
There have been many reasons given to explain why the concert was forcibly moved from Theatre N to the City/County Building. What we know for a fact is that there was a complaint issued about the content of my music. We also know that there were complaints about many who entered the building for the concert. In addition, we have been told that there may have complaints from moviegoers who were unable to see the incorrectly scheduled film. According to the information that we received at the time the event was relocated, we were told to the leave the building because of the completely untrue mischaracterization of my music. At Richard Raw Productions, we pride ourselves on producing quality, cultural, artistic and educational events. I am a community activist and hip-hop artist who creates positive music that can be appreciated by diverse groups of people regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity. I work with youth through my program Beyond Those Bars where I use hip-hop as a teaching tool. And at this time I want to use this moment, this situation, as a teaching tool as well.
Hip-hop has a stigma that is nearly impossible for some to shake. Hip-hop is a beautiful music art form that, like any thing else, can be used for positive or negative. I use hip-hop in a positive way—to uplift the community, support cultural pride and teach our young men and women how to be productive members of our society. Prejudice, discrimination and bias often shape views people have of others, specifically people of color and their cultural art forms. While I do not have sufficient information to support that the events of December 11th were based on prejudice or bias, I can say that in this society, we are bombarded every day with images and social messages designed to shape our thoughts and actions. Just think about our own city, Wilmington, Delaware and the derogatory title it has been given of “Murder Town”. While there is violence in our community, Wilmingtonians know that Wilmington is more than “Murder Town” – It is a beautiful city that, like any other must deal with crime and violence. The title “Murder Town” is designed to create a specific narrative aimed to shape the views and opinions of the public. The same goes for certain demographics like people of color and the hip-hop community. Mainstream media such as news outlets, television shows, mainstream music and commercials work to frame what we think, how we feel and how we act. It is through this intentional, systematic framing that certain people are unjustly profiled and mistreated. While we have come a long way in the area of race and cultural relations, we must remain brutally honest and admit that we have far to go. We cannot afford to ignore issues concerning racism, classism, prejudice and bias.
In order to elevate Wilmington and society as a whole, we must continue this dialogue and put in the necessary work to breakdown the negative narratives we are forced to encounter everyday. In addition we can no longer ignore those, like myself, who work on the grassroots level and are trying to affect change in our communities. We, the grassroots, want to invest, with sincere hearts and minds, in our people who are victims of the deeply ingrained ideologies that support racial, cultural and class bias. I refuse to allow those who suffer from the aftermath of generation after generation of discrimination and mistreatment to be exploited and unnecessarily mischaracterized.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all those who rallied behind me and spoke out against this injustice. I would like to send a special thank you to Councilwoman Dr. Hanifa Shabazz for her swift and thorough assistance with this situation. Councilwoman Shabazz has been by our side since the beginning and for that I am appreciative. I would also like to send special thanks to Councilwoman Maria Cabrera, Will Minster of Downtown Visions, Michael Kalmbach of Creative Vision Factory, Ivy Smith, Raye Jones-Avery of Christina Cultural Arts Center, and all those who stood by our side and supported us. Now I ask that we all make a commitment to use this situation as a starting point to demand change in the social constructions that leave those deemed “powerless” in compromising and unjust positions. Let us continue to remain true to who we are, exhibit our art forms in any positive way that we desire and demand respect and support in our communities and beyond.