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February 13 "Coffee Hour" presentation

On Wednesday, February 13, Zenzele Isoke will present "Gender, Social Capital and the Problematics of Racial Liberalism in Hip Hop" from 2:00-3:30 in the Geneva H. Southall Library (Social Sciences Tower 815). [Presentation Abstract]

Isoke explores how the 2004 National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) served as a transformative space for U.S. Black feminists to do anti-racist, anti-sexist political work in Newark, NJ. Black feminists' active participation in the NHHPC was a strategic effort to situate women of color feminisms in the larger historical movement for racial justice in urban communities. Isoke argues that NHHPC served as a stage for deeply gendered contestations over visibility, access, and public influence – mirroring unresolved Black sexual politics of an earlier era. Using semi-structured interviews of Black women political activists in Newark, she analyzes their efforts to politicize a gender specific national political agenda. This manifestation of Black women's agency and subjectivity within the conceptual space of hip hop was motivated by a sustained effort to mobilize people in urban communities around a variety of issues, including police brutality, the criminalization of Black and brown youth, sexual and gender-based violence, failing schools and media literacy.

Isoke's presentation is part of a larger book project called "The Political Spaces of Black Women in the City: Identity, Agency and the Flow of Social Capital in Urban Communities." Isoke's research poses the following questions: how do black women create and utilize political spaces toward transformative ends in communities of color? How can feminist social researchers, using an epistemic paradigm rooted in the larger social justice project of radical black feminism, provide valid accounts of black female subjectivity rooted in everyday black political struggle in American cities? Isoke's research explores the contemporary structural realities that face Newark’s families and analyzes the narratives of courage, sacrifice and hope captured in the political biographies of the women interviewed.