Power to the People: A Look Into The Activism of Cancer Survivor and Social Justice Warrior, Jimmy “Taboo” Gomez

 Jimmy “Taboo” Gomez

Jimmy “Taboo” Gomez

It’s amazing to see all these beautiful people from different nationalities, of different walks of life, different demographics. This is about the power of the people. The power of the people shall and will always be a lot stronger than the people in power. 
— Taboo

When you have a platform of millions of fans and followers, there are ways to use that platform for good and to empower others. As a member of the globally known band The Black Eyed Peas that is exactly what rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, DJ, activist, and cancer-survivor Jimmy “Taboo” Gomez does every day. Social justice warriors come in many shapes and sizes, and Taboo brings his heart and passion to many groups and issues that are near and dear to him for the betterment of our world.

Next weekend, Taboo is a panelist on the educational San Diego Comic-Conpanel that I am moderating — Are Superheroes Social Justice Warriors? How to Educate, Illuminate, and Bring Diversity and Social Change Through Comics. I had the pleasure of working with The Black Eyed Peas for the first time back in January 2018 bringing their original graphic novel and AR app, Masters of the Sun: The Zombie Chronicles into the Impact Hub area of INTO ACTION, Los Angeles, based social justice festival of art and ideas.

Most people know The Black Eyed Peas (will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo and Fergie) and their music and each of the Peas are forces to be reckoned with as individuals. Taboo is such a force. He is a fierce advocate of educating on cancer prevention, inspiring healthy living for our youth, speaking about indigenous population justice, building awareness of mental health and encouraging the serving of underserved communities. His activity is multi-faced, multi-generational and multi-dimensional, he continuously shows up, speaks up and rises up for what he believes in. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have him on our San Diego Comic-Con panel.

Here are a few of the many examples of Taboo’s Fierce Social Justice Warrior in action:

IMMIGRATION REFORM

In solidarity with political leaders, activists, Los Angeles families, and other big-name celebrities, Taboo spoke and performed alongside John Legend to 70,000 people during the Families Belong Together-Freedom for Immigrants March, one of hundreds of marches held that same day nationwide. The rally and march were formed to send a message to the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, separating families from their families at our borders. The protest demanded that families be reunited as soon as possible. More than 700 marches happened on Saturday, June 30th in Los Angeles, New York City and many other conservative cities to show support.

 

 Taboo at the Families Belong Together Rally

Taboo at the Families Belong Together Rally

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS

This May, will.i.am and Apl.de.Ap came out to support their Black Eyed Peas fellow band member, Taboo who spoke at the Los Angeles mental health and wellness event WE RISE, about his journey through the mental trauma he went through while going through chemo and being a cancer survivor. The Black Eyed Peas also launched their new music video at the event, “Ring the Alarm,” featuring The Voice Philippines’ Jessica Reynoso. WE RISE brought together hundreds of artists, activists, students, and workers to shine a light on creating a city, state, nation, and world that fosters the empowerment of health and well being as a civil right. My dear friend, activist and social justice consultant, Eleuthera Lisch gave Taboo a tour of the art gallery which featured Indigenous Artists focused on mental health and well being.

 

 Taboo and Eleuthera Lisch, Director of Social Impact, WERISE Photo credit: Eleuthera Lisch

Taboo and Eleuthera Lisch, Director of Social Impact, WERISE Photo credit: Eleuthera Lisch

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES JUSTICE AND AWARENESS

Last year, all nominees in the category of “Fight The System” a new award to reflect the music industry and fans activism for social justice issues (immigration, LGBTA equality, racial justice and environmental justice) at the MTV Video Music Awards won a moon man for their activism, Taboo’s “Stand Up Stand N Rock’ was one of the nominees. The song featured an all-star Native hip-hop artist lineup including “Magnificent Seven” Native American artists from different tribes, including Zack “Doc” Battiest, Spencer Battiest, Emcee One, Drezus, PJ Vegas, SupaMan, Natalia Aka “My Verse.” Other contributing vocalists and musicians include Tony Duncan, Spencer Battiest, Kahara Hodges, Gerald Danforth, and Perry Cheevers. Featured actors in the video are actors Martin Sensmeier and Shailene Woodley.

The song and video was a statement of support for the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in solidarity with the protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. With his Shoshone Tribe heritage, Taboo collaborated with other Native American artists including members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to promote awareness, visit the site first hand and also galvanize momentum for change with all indigenous people across the county who stood together against the DAPL.

That same week, Native Americans in Philanthropy formed a new partnership with Taboo which resulted in an initial pledge $50,000 to support the organization's cutting-edge social impact work. Underscoring the launch of this partnership was Taboo’s arrival at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) where he was joined on the blue carpet by Native Americans in Philanthropy CEO, Sarah Eagle Heart, several co-founders of advocacy network Indigenous Women Rise and native musician group Magnificent 7.

 Taboo at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Photo Credit: Taboo

Taboo at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Photo Credit: Taboo

In addition to the donation to Native Americans in Philanthropy, Tabooʼs partnership will help fundraise an additional $50,000 in matching funds to support ongoing advocacy, education and launch of a new fellowship to highlight how Native cultures, traditions, and worldview can drive social change.

I have been so fortunate in my life and career; I recognize the need and responsibility to give back. My Grandmother was a strong Native woman and gave me so much, partnering with Sarah Eagle Heart and Native Americans in Philanthropy is another step towards honoring her legacy and our shared culture. I just want to use my voice to bring to light the many issues facing the Native American population.
— Taboo

In 2017 Taboo joined thousands of Indigenous activists from across the United States in Washington D.C for the Native Nations March to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to build the pipeline adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. After the march, Indigenous activists and supporters gathered in Lafayette Square to hold a rally, featuring performances by Taboo and musicians Ulali, Gabriel Ayala, and Prolific the Rapper.

Taboo was heavily involved and continues to be involved with the #NoDAPL movement at Standing Rock, though the Water Protectors were forced to disband on Feb 26, 2017 having failed at stopping the construction of the oil pipeline, this movement has sparked change, awareness, and cohesiveness to conversations and direct action across our country, creating a greater connective tissue between Indigenous groups. For non-Native Americans, this movement shined a light on one of our countries ugly pieces of history of appropriation, land-use rights and the loss of indigenous customs and culture. People of all races and backgrounds came together to share their stories and bring a greater understanding of their lives, their constant struggle to maintain sustainable, basic living conditions of water, food, and land. Water is life.

CANCER PREVENTION

Last year Taboo also joined the board of directors for the new venture The Biden Cancer Initiative to develop and drive implementation of solutions to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research, and care, and to reduce disparities in cancer outcomes. The Biden Cancer Initiative is a response to the lack of a cohesive, comprehensive and timely approach to cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research, and care. Fueled by urgency, they stand on behalf of every patient, every family, every community having to deal with a cancer diagnosis and the complex and confusing maze they must navigate thereafter. The initiative is an independent nonprofit organization that builds on the Cancer Moonshot’sgoals and grounded on Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden’s firm commitment to ending cancer as we know it. Taboo has shared his cancer survivor story widely with his fans and the world as an ambassador for the American Cancer Society and is a strong ally, fundraiser, and speaker for cancer survivors globally. He is an ambassador of survival, fight, grit and hope.

BLACK EYED PEAS ILLUMINATING ISSUES

Last week Taboo and The Black Eyed Peas, released a new politically charged single and video titled “Get It” commenting on the chaos and confusion in the world at present. The song was crafted with several national organizations including the Hip Hop Caucus, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, #SchoolsNotPrisons, the Gathering for Justice, United We Dream and Revolve Impact. “Get It” follows the Black Eyed Peas’ previously released tracks, “Street Livin” ”Ring the Alarm pt.1, pt.2, pt.3”.

Last year, The Black Eyed Peas launched the project with a 114-page graphic novel, and along with the musical component, Masters of the Sun with its virtual reality component and an augmented reality experience. Their Masters of the Sun tour, their first Europe in eight years will commence on Oct 27 in London and will continue to Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Milton Keyes on Nov 3. Tickets are on sale now. As a tech geek, The Black Eyed Peas website is state of the art and with a Social (Action) Marketplace that is gamified and one of the most advanced fan sites I’ve ever seen. The site encourages fans to get involved and become more aware of the issues of our world; you can become a “Peabody” and gain points from the actions you take on the site.

There are countless other examples, stories, marches, speeches, movies, songs, performances that Taboo has been involved with that bring people hope but also inspires people to become the social justice warriors that live within them. He is a man that stands with one fist in the air and the other over his heart. He is an inspiration to us all.

You can follow Taboo on InstagramTwitter and The Black Eyed Peas on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

Hope to see you there — hit us up on Twitter or Instagram and say hello!

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Written by Head Maven & CEO, Heather Newman, Creative Maven

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