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Kuumba Fest 2005 at the San Diego Rep's Lyceum starts tomorrow, Friday, February 25, and includes African drumming, jazz, and gospel. "Each band is made up of young people," says Daj-ahn Blevins, artistic director. Acts include Those Dang Robinsons, Jmatth, and One Akkord, a group that has created original music to go along with Blevins's play Black Like That, which will be featured at the festival. The event, now in its 13th year, goes all weekend long, and tickets range from $5 to $70. More information can be found at www.sandiegorep.com/home.asp.

I tell Blevins that in the past six months I have noticed an increase in shootings and that I believe they are gang initiation rites. Blevins disagrees. "It's a lack of positive recreation," he says, "and it's mostly coming from young girls. You have these middle-class girls who are getting into prostitution, and they talk the boys they know into becoming their pimps and going out and shooting people. It's not a gang or territorial thing or that someone owes them money."

"You mean they're doing it for fun?"

"It's a fad."

"Do you think this is a pop culture influence? That 'pimps and ho's' are so cool because of all the rap videos that glorify the lifestyle?"

"I haven't thought of it that way," he says, "but yes, maybe."

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