Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

School Teacher & Journalist Drops Book Exploring Effect Hip-Hop Has On Teens

Amanda's Ray, by noted hip-hop journalist and NYC public high school teacher Tachelle Shamash Wilkes, explores the effects of hip-hop on teens through the eyes of Amanda Ray, a 16-year-old aspiring lyricist from Brownsville, Brooklyn.

In the new book, readers will immediately compare the protagonist: Kendra Star's struggles to those of currently incarcerated hip-hop artist, Remy Ma. Tachelle doesn't deny the connection and notes that Remy Ma's struggles made her become more sympathetic to the challenges faced by many popular hip-hop artists.

"Remy was my muse," Wilkes tells "I didn't realize all of the crazy things she went through as a child. There was a time when I was writing for The Source magazine that I was hard on rappers without knowing their past. Many of these rappers are not brought up right and our kids follow them blindly."

As a teacher Tachelle has seen both the positive and negative effects that hip-hop can have on youth. Tachelle believes that the book highlights the fact that so many young people are being raised by hip-hop, and therefore the music has a responsibility to the community.

"I think there is a great lesson to be taught concerning Remy's incarceration and Amanda's Ray explores how the lyrics as well as the lives of rappers directly affect our children," she said.

But Tachelle's book does not just point the finger at hip-hop. Instead, she delves deeper into the socioeconomic, mental and emotional issues that affect the lives of many teens in disadvantaged communities. As a teacher, she has taught students who lived in shelters, were victims of abuse and more. The common thread she found was that all of her students needed consistent attention and care from their parents and an opportunity to be successful.

"Parents need to be tuned into with what their children are listening to," she says. "Kids need unconditional love and boundaries. Parents can't just sit their kids in front of a TV when they should be checking their children's homework each night. If their children are having difficulties in school then parents must search for resolutions, so that young people can make better decisions. We also need to bring the community back. Parents, teachers, neighbors and hip-hop artists need to work together so that we can prepare our kids for brighter futures."

So, not only does Tachelle have a powerful novel, she also has a mission to make a positive impact in the hip-hop community one reader at a time.

Tachelle's next stop on her promotional book tour is Friday (October 2), where she'll be stopping by the Le Grand Dakar Restaurant on 285 Grand Avenue in Brooklyn, NY.

The event starts at 7 PM and ends at midnight. For more information, people should contact: