Raffi on Child Honouring, Hip-Hope, and Resisto Dancing

April 24, 2008

Recently, lots of people have been asking us about Raffi and what the children’s entertainer is up to now. While we couldn’t track down any video or audio of the rap the Baby Beluga composer did for us during our initial phone interview (it’s called Resisto Dancing, a single from his album of the same name), we did want to point you towards the online platform for Raffi’s recent re-incarnation as what he calls a “global troubadour”: RaffiNews.com.

Here, you’ll find an outline of Raffi’s philosophy of “Child Honouring,” as well as fresh tunes like Cool It – The Global Warming Song(feat. David Suzuki). Check out the music video.

You see, Raffi wants you. He’s working to make Child Honouring (and an environmental consciousness is an essential part of that) a global movement. A crucial step involves a call to those he refers to as ‘Beluga Grads,’ the kids who grew up with a Banana Phone and are now preparing to have youngins of their own.

We thought we’d give you guys a peak at a piece of the transcript of our interview with Raffi that we never used in the book. This is Raff and Paul chatting it up about the issues that matter the most.


Raffi: ….Interesting that we’re having this conversation. You’re writing about Raffi the children’s icon, or some such thing. I only mention this because I don’t want to forget it in this interview – you might find this interesting; I don’t know where or whether it’ll factor in your writing, but I’m just now going through what we call “a Raffi renaissance”, in which I am evolving yet again, now into a global troubadour….. How old are you guys?

Q: We’re about 24.

R: Perfect, so you’re right in that demographic. And did you both grow up singing my songs? Baby Beluga among them?

Q: Yes. Baby Beluga among them.

R: So you are the archetypal “Beluga Grads”. Generation B, or BG. The BG is alive and well in Canada and elsewhere, yes!

So I really wanted to just take a moment or two and say isn’t it interesting that you’re writing about those early times for me and the decisions that I made. I’ve had to make a whole new set of decisions in this renaissance because it really does feel like a re-birthing of sorts. You should have seen me in Victoria, a week ago. I was presenting at a theological conference called “Epiphanal Exploration 2006” at the First Metropolitan Church in Victoria. The talk was called “Child Honouring: The Next Ecological Paradigm” and I was co-presenting it with a couple of friends of mine who are totally into Child Honouring, which is a philosophy I’ve developed on which there’s an anthology I’ve just finished that’ll be out in May. I co-edited this anthology, which will be out in May and you can find it on the new website. In any case, there I was not only talking about child honouring, but singing about it – the new songs that will be out on the new album. This is kind of like, well I don’t know how to put it, this is like the birth of a whole new…

Q: Is it Raffi 2?

R: Yeah, yeah man, that’s it. The album is called, are you ready for this, it’s called, “Resisto Dancing.”

Q: I like it.

R: Resisto Dancing, the song, is a blend of Hip-Hop, Dylan, Abraham Maslow, Shakespeare, R & B, Jazz, in a style that I call Hip-Hope. Apparently no one’s coined that phrase. It’s “Hip-Hope” in the sense that it’s very celebratory; there’s no clenched fists in it. I mentioned Abraham Maslow. He was a psychologist who said, “healthy individuation requires resisting unhealthy enculturation.” So the song is a metaphor. Resisto Dancing is a metaphor for living a life of creative resistance to a culture that doesn’t reflect your heart of hearts – a consumer culture, a wasteful culture, a bottom-line culture. To make a long-story short, the CD will have about 14 cuts on it, including an audio version of the covenant for honouring children, which I wrote. This is a recording that features the voices of the Dalai Lama and Jane Goodall among others. It’ll have a number of songs written in recent years that are motivational songs that I sing at keynote presentations like the one in Victoria that I was mentioning. The Raffi Renaissance this year, which is the 25th anniversary of the recording of Baby Beluga, features the book Child Honouring, the anthology, and this new CD and a whole host of keynote presentations.

Q: I wanted to talk briefly about what’s really at the core here, which is the childhood imagination. You say that the development of the child requires a dream space, a private space, and I was wondering about what the potential long-term effects of having that space infringed on by advertising…

R: You got an hour or two? You are asking the question, the question of the day.

Q: And what’s the answer to the question of the day?

R: I’m going to stay with your question; I’m not going to jump to an answer. You’re asking the question because within your question is the understanding of what’s at stake for society in protecting that imaginal space for the child, in protecting that space and respecting the child’s psyche and spirit from a young age, from birth. By doing that you’re actually nurturing and protecting the social capacity of society and the developing intelligence of its members. That’s what you’re doing. So to not do that, to legally allow corporations to exploit that space and violate the child’s psyche and spirit, is a folly of huge consequence, and I liken it to nothing less than the colonization of the child in my mind. Whew. I didn’t know I was going there. But I really want to applaud you for that question.

Q: How does impacting that imaginal space affect the choices a person will end up making which relate to who you want to be?

R: There’s a lot to say here, and I’ll see if I can tease out the most important threads. The image-making capacity of a young being is critical to creative thought and a creative life. Television’s intrusion into that space is that it feeds you pre-fab imagery, and that’s why the American Pediatric Association recommends no TV for children two years or younger. It’s the reason that I haven’t gone into television. The concert videos that I made were first marketed for children aged 3 to 7 and that’s historic fact, and secondly they were so interactive it was as though you were actually at a Raffi concert, so I was very careful with that. But on another point, you’ll understand why I haven’t made one commercial endorsement of any kind in thirty years doing this, and that certainly goes against the grain of what celebrities do. And I’m very proud of that track record by the way. I’ve not done one advertisement – I’ve never marketed our products, me being Troubadour, to children directly. We are of the view that it’s unethical to advertise to children and to market things to them directly. I just sent a letter to Ted Rogers, asking him to take the cell phones for pre-teens off the market, voluntarily. To stop advertising to pre-teens directly.

Then you can get into the whole question of rights, as beings, as young beings, do children have a right to be unexploited. You can look at this question from a number of points of view, but one thing I can say is this: if it’s morally repugnant, if it’s morally and spiritually repugnant, the idea of exploiting the innocent, why is it legal? I think in posing that question we get at the roots of this unhealthy enculturation that I’m asking Beluga Grads and everyone who will listen, to do the creative Resisto Dancing around.”


One Response to “Raffi on Child Honouring, Hip-Hope, and Resisto Dancing”

  1. […] lives of well-known Canadians — from astronaut Roberta Bondar to children’s performer Raffi and […]

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