A member of the rap group Public Enemy and the group's public relations manager will visit campus today to speak about problems facing the black community. Chuck D. and Harry Allen, of the unconventional and controversial group, will cover the topics of unemployment, homelessness, poor health care and education in a speech entitled "Rappers Against Racism" at 4 p.m. in Irvine Auditorium. The rap group has attracted nationwide attention and controversy since the release of its first album, "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back," by taking an often militant stance in addressing racism and other social issues. The group has been accused of being anti-Semitic, racist and violent in its call for black empowerment, but has also spoken out against racism and drugs in subsequent albums, entitled "Welcome to the Terrordome" and "Fear of a Black Planet." Among the group's chief supporters is filmmaker Spike Lee, who used its music in the film "Do the Right Thing." Chuck D. is the group's "Lyrical Terrorist" or lead performer. Allen, known as the "Media Assassin," writes some of the group's material. Although Public Enemy's message may offend some listeners, members of the Black Student League said they booked the group because its message should be heard and they expect it to attract a crowd. "Public Enemy is one of the first rap groups whose rap dealt with the problems in the black community," said BSL president and College junior Jessica Dixon. Sponsored by the BSL, Connaissance and five other University groups, the organizers said they expect to attract a large crowd, not only from the University but also from local high schools. "Hopefully we'll get some of the younger people out to hear what they have to say," Dixon said. Dixon said the BSL scheduled the event for 4 p.m. so high school students could come to the event without fear of travelling home in the dark. She also said there would be fewer problems if the event is held in the early evening. Wharton sophomore Martin Dias, the corresponding secretary of BSL, said the rappers are unpredictable. "You can't always be sure of what [Chuck D.] is going to say," Dias said. "He speaks about the negative aspects of drugs and gangs and the effect on the community." Dias said he hopes people of other races will attend the speech even if they disagree with Public Enemy's message. "He tries to deal with social issues across the board," Dias said. "It's not just a black thing, it's an American thing." The speech is open to the public, including members of the local community not affiliated with the University.Comments powered by Disqus
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