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Whiteness and the Hip Hop Generation by Diane White

An issue I have wanted to return to all semester long has been White bodies in hip hop and hip hop culture. Though hip hop has clear and definite connections to the Black community and experience, if someone that is White feels that their lived experiences coincide with this culture then can they identify as hip hop generationers? Or on the first day of class, what did it mean that the members were predominantly White women?

Does this complicate the space set up for the class itself or can White people express an interest and desire in hip hop without imposing or appropriating the art form? I clearly don’t know the answers to these questions, though I am very interested in hearing everyone else’s take on them. Sometimes I feel that I am entering a sacred space that wasn’t meant for my presence, especially with showing clips of the film No for my final group project. Even with being open-minded and respectful, I feel that there are some spaces meant for a particular group of people and the act of discussing and exploring these spaces on the behalf of another more seemingly privileged group, is problematic. Issues that have come up in other classes are how to deal with privilege, whiteness and representation issues, though we have had little similar discussion in this course. I’m wondering how other people are feeling about these issues and thought it would be interesting to bring up in my last blog.

Comments

What a great blog. I understand where you are coming from. I have thought about this a lot and I think that there is a part of me, as a white woman, that cannot claim many of the injustices that black women face not only in the past, but also on a daily basis. so what do I do? I do not tolerate racism or ignorance.I speak up when someone says something stupid or stereotypical and I try to educate myself about black history and black feminism. I think that hip hop is very universal but also very historical. If you do not understand the pieces that make up hip hop you cannot respect it or the community and the people who began to make this music. I have had really good discussions about white guilt and I have had really bad ones. I think that it is important not to reaffirm anyone who thinks that they can use white guilt as an excuse to be a racist. NO! was as much a film about the horrible oppression of black women by white slavery as it was about racism that exsits today. I think that it is hard for white people to step outside of themselves and believe that their is racism that is alive and well and mainstream in this country. Will this change because of Barack Obama, i think that it can and i really hope that it will. The very first black studies class i had, i raised my hand, i was then a person who didnt know or understand about black history and culture, but I told my teacher that i don't see race, not smart at all.She gave me my first real lesson, she said, If you dont see the color of my skin then you dont see my history or my struggle and the struggle of my people and that is not OK. Thank God for her honesty.It was really then that i knew that i had to come to terms with being white on my own and learn about all people of color so i could understand their lives, Black Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish Women and Men, Indian women, everyone. I am so thankful she called me out, otherwise I would still be in my little white guilt bubble!

oh yeah diane white, i totally agree. this is a particularly thoughtful blog, and one that is kind of hard to grapple with given that our class has a fair amount of white girls in it. but i do think that there is something to be said for education and a respect for what it means to consciously identify with a racial history, religious history, sexuality, or gender.
the normalization of a white heterosexual male construction in our society has allowed for so many identities and realities to go unheard in our daily lives. and we live and breath capitalism which delegates some ideal path that every american needs to be on.
but i think our education on the limitations of these constructions are the first step in some sort of change. it allows us to be acknowledge and respect one another, to think about where our hard earned money is going, and to become conscious citizens in our communities. and i don't necessarily think that is an answer, but it's a start.

I agree with the comments posted for this blog, and it is a very thoughtful one! I think that this topic is interesting because "whiteness" in hip hop doesn't stop there. We never touched alot upon latinos or asian hip hop in class which can also, in some ways, be put into the same group that are excluded from mainstream hip-hop.

I think that it takes a certain degree of understanding on both people's parts, whether you are white trying to identify with hip hop culture as well as the black person who already embodies hip hop. By this I mean that if a white person identifies with hip hop culture it is fine, but there is a fine line between being a part of the culture and claiming that 'its in your blood' or something like that. Take, for instance, Vanilla Ice. White face, claiming to be 'real' and how he grew up in the streets and it turns out that he lied so his credibility and association with hip hop goes right out the window.

Its true that our society is driven on the back of capitalism and globalization that are problematic as they are the driving forces behind many of these hegemonic ideas of blackness, culture, etc. And since capitalism reigns, the 'claiming' of everything from commodities to culture and things must be 'owned' in one form or another, I think that something like whiteness being completely open and accepted into hip hop culture is going to be extremely difficult.

Don't get me wrong though: That's not to say that I agree with that mentality by any means!!! The complexity of how culture is formed within mainstream societies today is a vast web filled with complications, exceptions, inclusion and exclusion that hopefully one day we will be able to undo, but in the mean time, I definitely agree with Kate that education is the first step!