This past week, Georgia State University hosted a conference that explored the role of ‘rap and hip-hop culture’ in education, politics, and social justice.
“Behind the Music: Hip-Hop and Social Justice” conference took place Monday and Tuesday, and was sponsored by GSU’s Political Science department. Some of the panels were ‘Politics and Atlanta Rap’, ‘Hip-Hop and Education/Academia’, ‘Hip-Hop and Social Justice Issues/Politics’, and ‘Hip-Hop’s Political and Social Voice’.
One of the featured speakers was Dr. Lakeyta Bonnette; Bonnette teaches classes on topics such as hip-hop and black political behavior, and she spoke to Campus Reform about the relationship between hip-hop and social justice:
“Hip Hop is ultimately a voice for the unheard and marginalized [because] those who suffer most from social injustices fall within the categories of unheard and marginalized…Hip Hop recently has fought against social injustices in a number of ways including the creation of programs, foundations, and initiatives.”
Bonnette cited the Hip Hop Summit Action Network and Hip Hop Caucus as two examples of such initiatives. She also pointed out that hip-hop and rap songs can be tools to educate people about political issues, taking note of songs such as “Georgia Bush” by Lil Wayne and “War Zone” by TI.
Dr. Carrie Manning, Chair of the Political Science Department, told Campus Reform that she was excited to see GSU host this conference:
“We wanted to bring attention to the work of local scholars and educators, activists and artists, and connect them with our students…We want our students to be educated, engaged citizens and the panelists for this conference are all doing innovative work that contributes to that.”
Rap and hip-hop have stepped onto the academic scene in the past few years as respected forms of art, literature, and expression. An example can be found in the submitted thesis of recent Harvard graduate, Obasi Shaw. Shaw submitted a 10 track rap album (titled “Liminal Minds”) for his honors thesis, and received the second highest grade available on it. The album provided a sweeping summary of African American history.
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(H/T: Campus Reform)