Bay Area panel unites women in hip-hop


Shyra Gums,

On Nov. 2, 2017, I posted a “Throwback Thursday” Instagram post of me and some of my mentors who were panelists in my first Women in Hip Hop Panel in 2015. I  just tried to show my appreciation for having them all as my “Hip-Hop guardians.”

One of my mentors shared the post, resulting in her and many more viewers asking for me to bring the event back. I was unsure if I would deliver as well since I was at a critical juncture in my college career, but out of the love that I have for my mentors and my community, I just said, “OK.”

On Friday I was able to do that when I hosted a panel about women and hip-hop at Youth Radio in downtown Oakland.

With little confidence, I went back to Youth Radio, the place where I held the event and my second home. My former supervisor and performing arts mentor referred me to some help from the revamped communications department at Youth Radio, who offered to assist me in making arrangements and plans. I got acquainted with the team and began reaching out to artists while drafting an introductory email. It was at this moment, that I realized this was really going to happen. The process of collecting a solid number of dope hip-hop artists, who are all women, was hectic. I had some artists who were all in, but I lost some of them because I took too long to follow up with them with my introductory email.

Then, after I locked in the number of panelists, I realized that I was a month away from putting this panel together. In 2015, I had four months and I was still interning at Youth Radio. I had faith that I would have assistance from the communications department in reaching out to the press with the media advisory I reconstructed and that maybe I could bring in some of my press connections from the last panel. I also had faith that some of the panelists from 2015 would come to witness the relaunch, but my vision was very limited after I realized that I was on the verge of graduating and the demand of my final months of work is crucial.

I then decided to bring on some additional teammates. They were people who I had known for a while, who I knew had love for the cause of highlighting these amazing artists. I decided to have a co-moderator, who was a man and who expresses solidarity with women in hip-hop. I also decided to bring a longtime friend and former colleague from Youth Radio to manage a lineup of young gifted artists to perform after the panel.

Unlike 2015, this time it was raining and I was afraid that not a lot of people would show up. One of my panelists gave me a heads up that she would be running late. Also, I was not able to get any press from 2015 to cover the event. But I still felt happy because some of my highly supportive classmates wanted to come and cover the event for our school newspaper, The Pioneer, and our revamped radio station, “East Bay Live”.

I am still at a loss for words of how I feel about the high success of this relaunched event, but this night really opened my eyes more to see this: Women in hip-hop are really on the rise to a new level and more people are taking notice. I’m just really glad that I did my part in highlighting that, for I am also, a woman in hip-hop.