Locals may not have heard of Green Party presidential candidate Jared Ball, or his campaign manager Head Roc--known as "the Mayor of D.C. hip hop"--but their ideas about social equality and reform have been told before through the voices of Martin Luther King Jr. and Black Panther Fred Hampton.
Ball seeks to be a new kind of presidential candidate, with a message delivered in a language of the underrepresented majority: hip hop. The 36-year-old professor of communications and father of two hopes to inspire African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans to vote. At the same time, he wants to rebuild the Green Party into a unifying and powerful force.
To do this, Ball and his staff have taken a novel approach to politics. On Dec. 17, Ball will share his vision for a third party at the SLO Senior Center. He promises that this won't be a standard political speech with accompanying photo op--Ball is equal parts performance artist and social commentator, with the aspirations of a social revolutionary.
Ball's hip-hop campaign is a new idea, and he says that's exactly what politics needs. Hip hop, he said, is a modern language of the oppressed and will be the key to uniting ethnic groups who are generally marginalized and overlooked within the two-party system.
"We use hip hop, being that that's what we've been raised in and are practitioners of," Ball said. "So we use that as a point of departure to talk about any number of different things. We don't want to confuse people by saying a hip-hop campaign means that we aren't serious, or that we aren't committed to solidarity with a number of different groups of people, but that is our natural and most immediate cultural form, and we feel, why not embrace that?"
Music and performance aside, Ball delivers a message that rejects militarism for social growth, and would replace corporate perks with a focus on human rights.
"Whether we're talking about politics, or hip hop, or anything else for that matter," Ball said, "we like to get people to think critically and to challenge what they think they know about or what they think they know about that which is popular."
Ball's main message is a call for all types, and all ages, of people to unite.
"I don't necessarily see age as being related to conservatism or progressiveness," Ball said. "So I think the struggle is only: Can we galvanize those who consider themselves progressive into taking the challenge, and taking the leap and to creating a new party?"
He ends the conversation with a nod of hope, goodwill, and a challenge, if you will--quoting the words of Hampton: "I wish you peace, if you're willing to fight for it."
Ball's hip-hop presidential performance is from 7 to 10 p.m., Dec. 17, at 1445 Santa Rosa St., in the senior center.