Blog#2 Some Thoughts from class

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When talking about "we" it is always important to think about who that "we" is, who is included in that and who is not. When we watched the DAM video in class there were some comments that I'd like to expand on here. Specifically our discussion following the song "who's a terrorist?". In the case of DAM's hip hop influences what does it mean first to say, especially for someone of privilege within the US, "they are taking our beats..." then to proceed with "and they are turning them around on us". First thing that comes to my mind is, who do those beats belong to and who is the "our" in this situation? The "our" in this case was referencing the US, and was implying that hip hop beats from the US belong to "American" people and culture as a group. For the purpose of this argument I'm going to say that although I don't think these beats belong to one someone, dominant white culture in the US should not be able to claim hip hop as "our beats". Ignoring the fact that hip hop is largely a movement of people of color who are excluded from dominant culture and are in struggle within the US against systematic elimination by the dominant cultures institutionalized discrimination (through poverty, police, racism, etc.). So the "our" to which these US hip hop beats DAM samples belong, is a community which DAM is in solidarity with in a struggle against imperialism, colonialism and racism around the world.
The song, as some pointed out in class, was addressing Isreali oppression of Palestinians and not US oppression. I would argue that it was also referencing the US as it is implicated in the violence perpetrated against Palestinian's through its support of Isreal (weapon donations) and its role in colonialism and imperialism world wide. This songs critiques of Isreal carry over quite easily to critiques of the US. Everyone in the US (in some way or another, and not to say its not true elsewhere) is participating in systems of oppression where they are oppressing somebody, this is practically inescapable in a capitalist society. People with privilege (white, middle class, heterosexual, etc.) are especially implicated in this. As someone from a privileged community it is up to that individual to decide whether they deserve to be included in the anger of this message or whether they are an ally. Subsuming hip hop into dominant culture in this way (pitting DAM's message against US hip hop's message) negates the inherent qualities hip hop has of being an oppositional force itself in struggle against US imperialism, racism, colonialism, and criminalization of People of Color. This is the struggle DAM is talking about too.

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I must say that I was a little saddened in class Wednesday. I always am when I feel that someone is not being honest about how they really feel or they are intimidated into not expressing these feelings. This is a subject that can get heated; it is going to get heated. If every time someone raises their voice or rolls their eyes, the class shuts down how are we to truly learn anything. Hip Hop is a volatile topic with a host of volatile themes. It’s just not going to always be comfortable. I am not out to attack anyone. I am just expressing opinions that I find valid or pointing out observations that I find interesting. I find the range of human actuality fascinating and am attracted to experiences and points of reference that are different from my own. I think it must be said that that it is totally fine not to understand or not to be aware a given situation. What’s not okay with me is when I feel that my learning experience is crippled by fear and political correctness. I’m just saying.

Mykah

I totally agree with you Mykah. I'm so tired of being brave enough to be honest about my opinion and then being halted in my development by someone who's afraid to just say what they mean. I think often times in this class and in general people don't think about what they're saying and so when someone relays it back to them, that's when they realize how problematic their utterances are and were. The funny thing about people actively trying to be politically correct is that their efforts go unrewarded. It often backfires as soon as someone picks up on it.

I recently blogged about now hip hop is having the strength to have a voice. I forgot to add to that, a meaningful voice; one that challenges, expands, and adds to the general marketplace of ideas. The peculiar thing about hip hop is that these ideas don't have to be popular or accepted my many. Its all about giving voice to those who would otherwise not have one. As long as we keep this in mind, we won't have to apologize for speaking our mind.

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