Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The War Against Black Intellectualism and Hip Hop

I recently read a paper titled "The cultural war against Black Intellectualism: Fighting for and dying over knowledge, dope, and hip hop in pursuit of Black liberation". It is a dissertation by Todd Boyd, University of Southern California, which discusses many aspects of the black liberation struggle for human rights, including black intellectual thought and activism. Boyd argues that "American institutionalized racism and the system's aggressive resistance to Black liberation have historically targeted Black intellectual thought on several fronts including: legislation forbidding the literacy of Blacks, faulty scientific research regarding Black intelligence, federal programs to squelch Black resistance, and grossly stereotypical media depictions of Black people."He goes on to address how the Black Power Movement during the 1960's promoted the growth of black intellectualism and subsequently Hip Hop.

This is a fascinating situation for many reasons but I am particularly interested in the role Hip Hop plays as a form of black intellectualism in impoverished neighborhoods. It is interesting to imagine that Hip Hop has become a type of alternative education for adolescents and teenagers that cannot go to school. Undoubtedly, being a successful rapper requires a high degree of entrepreneurship, intelligence, and creativity, therefore, it is presumable that the driven inner city residents without access to education might turn to Hip Hop.

This also seems to correlate with the skewed proportion of black rappers to other ethnic groups. This is due to the origins of Hip Hop in primarily black neighborhoods, associated with DJ Red Alert, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, etc., but there is also the economic opportunity aspect that needs to be taken into account. For example, if the theory that post-Black Power Movement intellectualism has endorsed Hip Hop in poor urban environments, then it is also just as likely that impoverished, uneducated blacks would rely on Hip Hop not only as a form of entertainment, but as a livelihood as well.

What are your thoughts on the role of Hip Hop and education in the urban poor?

1 comment:

  1. I am in agreement with the post-Black Power Movement spawning the growth of hip hop because hip hop arose as an extension of the struggle against oppression. As for education, I'm sure, as I do not know for sure, that certain individuals who are not as fortunate to get an education, turn to hip hop as a guiding force. Sometimes, it could even be a choice of hip hop over education. I'm not so intent on the idea that "Undoubtedly, being a successful rapper requires a high degree of entrepreneurship, intelligence, and creativity" because some artists these days are fortunate to know someone in the industry and rap about non-intellectual aspects and become famous (aka Tyga and his cousin Travis McCoy).

    Reference: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/celebrity/tyga/biography.html


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