ERIC Number: EJ703265
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Apr-22
Reference Count: N/A
Who's Playin' Whom? Overwhelming Influence of Hip-Hop Culture, Rap Music on Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Campuses Concerns Students; Faculty
Black Issues in Higher Education, v21 n5 p26 Apr 2004
In December 2000, Dr. Thomas Earl Midgette had harsh words for the hip-hop movement that was sweeping his campus. When he was interviewed for an article in "Black Issues" titled "The Miseducation of Hip-Hop," Midgette didn't hold back: "You see students walking on campus reciting rap lyrics when they should be reciting something they'll need to know on their next test. These rap artists influence the way they dress. They look like hoochie mamas, not like they're coming to class. (And) young men with pants fashioned below their navel. "At that time Midgette was director of the Institute for the Study of Minority Issues at North Carolina Central University. Today he is a professor of humanities and social sciences at another historically Black institution, Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C. Midgette says the Methodist school enforces a dress code and emphasizes cultural awareness. Two years ago he established a weekly "Africana Day" on Wednesdays where students, faculty and administrators are encouraged to wear African attire and to participate in discussions about heritage and culture. Do-rags, midriff-revealing tank tops and boxer-baring baggy pants are against the code. And Standard English is required in classes. Meanwhile back at his old campus, the publicly funded North Carolina Central, the hip-hop culture is alive and burgeoning to the point that adjunct sociology professor Michelle Laws organized a symposium last month titled "Sex, Lies and Rap Music: The Message Behind the Hype--Am I Being Played?" The event was the outgrowth of a class discussion about the influence of rap music on the culture. "It prompted such rich discussion that we couldn't adequately address all the issues in class," Laws said, adding that the most provocative topics were the depiction of women in music videos, rap's influence on Black male and female relationships, and misogyny. The two-hour forum was billed as an "opportunity for students and faculty to engage in open dialogue about the impact and influence of rap music and for students to voice their opinions about the meaning, value and influence of rap music on their lives." A panel of students, faculty and a local DJ weighed in during the program that was extended an additional 30 minutes, and was attended by nearly 200 people. Laws said the outcome was encouraging. "The students demanded another session. And there seemed to be a consensus that this very powerful musical form needs to be used to address issues of the day--for political influence--after all, rap is the musical form of hip-hop, which started as a political tool. The portrayal of women, most of them African American, as sex objects in rap videos continues to be one of the most contentious aspects of the industry. Claflin's Midgette has found the solution in dress codes, African awareness and discipline--all of which are more enforceable at private universities than at public ones. Laws believes hope lies in continuing the dialogue. In the fall at NCCU, she plans to present part two of the forum, and once again pose the question: "Are You Being Played?"
Descriptors: African American Culture, Popular Culture, African American Students, Higher Education, College Students, Cultural Awareness, Dress Codes, Black Colleges, Sex Stereotypes, Gender Issues
Cox Matthews and Associates, Inc., 10520 Warwick Avenue, Suite B-8, Fairfax, VA 22030-3136. Web site: http://www.blackissues.com.
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Students; Teachers
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina