A new hip-hop inspired library is coming to the South Bronx to help Latino youth learn about their history and hone in on their beats and raps.
The new facility will be attached to the building of Rebel Diaz Arts Collective or RDAC-BX, a community arts center that includes a performance space, a multimedia studio, a computer lab, and an art gallery.
Named Richie Perez Radical Library after a South Bronx activist, the new reading temple will also be a place where Latin youth can discuss the challenges rap and hip-hop music face today in regards to the message and values spread by the music industry.
“A lot of times young Latinos don’t like to read because they don’t see themselves reflected in the stories that they learn about in school,” said one of the founding members of RDAC-BX Rodrigo Venegas, who also goes by his stage name MC RodStarz.
“The education system doesn’t teach us our history, but that doesn’t mean that there are not books out there that don’t,” he added.
The idea for the library began eight months ago and is a partnership with the SoHo-based Bluestockings bookstore, which will supply the reading material for the teens.
The library is set to debut next winter.
“We put together some books of Latin America that young people would relate to,” Venegas said in an interview with Fox News Latino. “We have conversations about the messages that the rap music industry is putting out and what we try to do is provide an alternative,” he added.
Venegas and his wife Claudia De la Cruz, his brother, who goes as G1, and fellow member DJ Illanoiz, took over an abandoned candy store in the South Bronx four years ago and transformed it into a center, where today the youth can enlighten themselves on the history of hip hop, music and their own cultural roots. With a fully equipped music studio and sound system, the place currently holds open mic nights and workshops for the thousands of youngsters (mainly ages 16-24) that visit the space monthly.
“This space is also about giving young people access to a safe place,” said Venegas, adding that those same kids are the ones who usually get “stopped and frisked” due to the lack of after school activity programs in the Hunts Point community.
Venegas expressed concern about the ideas that are conveyed to Latin youth through music nowadays, adding that he wants the kids who come to the center to get “knowledge.”
“The values proposed to our community are destructive,” he said.