Students Rising Above Scholar Aims to Use Music for Social Change

Michelle Griego reports on SRA scholar J.P. Mackey fighting for social change through his music.

Video Transcript

- For many of us, music can be a source of healing, stress release, and of course happiness and joy. But Michelle Griego reports this week, Students Rising Above scholar is showing us music can also be a tool for social change and community understanding.


- San Francisco native John-Paul Mackey or JP as he likes to be called, describes his personal journey as a musician.

J.P. MACKEY: I have been playing music since I was three years old. I just like being creative. It's just been in my life since I was born.

- And as an activist.

J.P. MACKEY: Seeing all the stuff that was happening for Black people, especially this year, made me realize that something like have to give. I've always believed the Black Lives Matter. But I think this year, I've become more of an activist just raising awareness of things.

- That awareness hitting home for the 23-year-old as he began seeing the women in his family facing challenges in their own community.

J.P. MACKEY: My mother is Black. I have a Black grandmother. Several Black female cousins and aunts. Yeah, I don't want to see Black women like them being disrespected.

- Disrespected by what this lifelong musician says are conflicting lyrical messages he hears about Black women in some music.

J.P. MACKEY: I wanted to send the message that we should decrease or just eliminate misogyny in rap music.

- It's a topic JP sees as controversial but one he is exploring musically, composing five original songs about respect and understanding for others, describing the experiences of the women he loves.

J.P. MACKEY: You can't always be heroes. So let's stop the Black so much pressure.

- The process bringing together all of his skills.

J.P. MACKEY: Podcast production, radio production, videography, graphic design, like just the basics of that and stuff.

- The recent Cal State Monterey Bay grad hoping to use his music degree and experience for producing and teaching.

J.P. MACKEY: If you put your music out there, you can put it out there for free.

- With a planned release of his original EP on SoundCloud soon.

J.P. MACKEY: You're not always strong enough. You don't always have everything together.

- JP says he knows his lyrical stance in music may bother some, but he hopes most will see his message as one of love, inclusiveness, and compassion.

J.P. MACKEY: I just feel connected to it.

- For Students Rising Above, I'm Michelle Griego.

- You can learn more about Students Rising Above and at scholars at