Sunday, March 27, 2011

Relection: "Colonialism is the Lens and Hip-Hop is the MIrror"

“Colonialism is the Lens and Hip-Hop is the Mirror”
by Jared A. Ball Ph.D


     The idea of Hip Hop being seen as remotely colonialized, or having a “poor/inaccurate representation” as Ball states, at first seemed inaccurate to me. We are talking about Hip-Hop; this genre of music is heard all over now. My students in EP High certainly listen to it, and my son and his friends from the SCWAAP area of Barrington, listen to the ever popular lyrics. I, too have my favorites. So when reading the article through the perspective of Ball I didn’t quite get it, until I realized how I was, and in some aspect still am, a part of the “Colonialism” of Hip-Hop.
     In ever really gave a Hip-Hop a try. I am talking about years ago, before kids, I had a prejudice view of Hip-Hop music. Prejudice is ignorance so I was ignorant. I didn’t really listen to it or its lyrics. Although, in the 80’s when Rap or Hip-hop (please ignore my ignorance here, I know there is a difference) started to become popular I really enjoyed it. It was the days of  MC Hammer and The Sugar Hill Gang.  I loved the beat and the lyrics. They were fun to listen to and Roller skate to (roller skating was big in the 80’s). So in my early 20’s I did listen to whatever was on the radio and Rap and Hip-Hop were played. Then something happened, I am not sure what it was but I remember Rap and Hip- Hop getting a bad “rap.” The lyrics were no longer fun and enjoyable but they seemed to take on a message that many wanted to ignore. Parents didn’t want their kids listening to it and the offensive words and messages were too strong. I also felt like I didn’t want to listen to words about jail, and guns, and drugs, and poverty.  Rappers were getting shot and I think this is when the “Colonialism” may have started. Again, this is my prejudice view  because I know there were some very inspirational and wonderful lyrics from the music, but no one was hearing it. Who do we blame for that? I can go back to the text here with Ball’s words;” “the people,” “the artists,” “radio stations,” or “record labels.””
     As a high school teacher and a parent of teenagers I have had no choice but to listen to Hip-Hop and Rap. My inaccurate view of this music and its artists has changed dramatically. I think about Ball’s frustration at the inability for many to be exposed to this genre. Although I do believe that the venues may be scarce, the availability is not. Nowadays, our ability to listen to anything, and being exposed to all genres of music is astounding.(I am still shocked that some of my students didn’t know who John Lennon was) The radio is something entirely different from  when I was a kid; there is satellite radio, I tunes, computers, and the numerous channels on digital TV. Hip-hop is here and it can be heard. I often find myself in the car hitting one of the pre set stations that my son set and listening to some Hip-Hop. Exposure is the key to understanding.
     To me, Hip-Hop seems to be ruling the airwaves. Maybe it is because that is what is around me.  Recently I have had a bigger revelation and respect for this genre of music. I realize that words are words. Some words hit harder than others. When I say hit harder I mean they make the listener feel emotion. I recently started listening to Slam Poetry. This opened up my eyes to words; the spoken word. Without the music, all songs are words, saying something about society, life, love, or feelings. They make us feel; they make us cry or laugh. They make us angry or melancholy. John Lennon, Eminem, and Daniel Beaty all have something to say. They just all say it with a different tune. We as a society need to have a diversity of words in our vocabulary.
To Think about:  How can we expose people to all types of music?
I have included Daniel Beaty’s “Knock Knock” slam. If you have never heard it then take a look. It is very powerful

Monday, March 21, 2011

GLEE : Connections to Christensen and Grinner

Grinner’s SCWAMP is apparent ideology in the television show GLEE.  Straightness is the most obvious dominance in this school with the exception of the one Gay student. However, the episode “Never Been Kissed” centers around the students hardships for being who his is. He is bullied by the jock, who is Gay but cannot and will not come out. Besides this young man, the characters are predominately straight. Christianity – This is apparent in Furt when there is a Catholic marriage, giving the impression that most of the people are Christian. Whiteness is definitely the dominant ideology here. I was looking for African American and minority characters but I found just a few. The one black girl I noticed was heavy set. Able-Bodieness, with the exception of the wheel chair boy. I didn’t notice anyone with special needs, or impairments. Male: Well this is high up on the dominance ladder. The male is truly more valued as the dominant ideology, at least in the episodes I watched. The male teacher who seems to fix everything, and the boy who just got out of reform school who  is idolized by the cheerleaders while he treats them like lower class citizens. The male masculinity with the connotations to sex is a message in the episode also. So, yes SHWAMP has its place in GLEE. However, that is , I think if one is analyzing it. This is where Christensen is relevant. The underlying message that women are inferior to men is in the episode “Never Been Kissed.” Just as Christensen discusses the “secret education” that kids are getting from cartoons, so are kids getting from Glee.  An education that  Gay is a bad thing because the Gay kid gets hit and bullied. Another message that is coming from Glee is that women need men to feel good. For instance, when the teacher kisses the Beast and suddenly everything is OK. Also, the cheerleaders who are degraded . There is a lot of “secret education” one can get from this show if one looks for it.
Overall I think that the theme of the show is the most relevant to the viewer. Just think , this media is giving people the opportunity to experience this diversity. When I was a kid one would never see  a kid in a wheel chair as one of the main characters, nor did we see a gay person or many African Americans. Today, we see it all and that is good. I think the overall message that it is OK to be gay, one can be accepted and respected if they are in a wheelchair and that bullying is wrong and hurting someone’s feelings is wrong.  Hopefully it is the theme of the show that viewers will latch on to and take away with them.
Glee reminds me of the film Grease.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Extra comment with links regarding SCWAMP

 Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets. I enjoy reading poems written by African Americans during the Harlem Renessaince because these poems are rich with culture and history. Many of the poems convey a message of hope and dreams of the African American and many convey the struggle through at time of oppression and segregation.  SCWAMP was very visible back then, as it is now. We now have the media in which young America can veiw this ideology. This ideology is inferred in so much of the literature and poetry. I have posted a few links below.  One of my favorite poems is "I, Too" by Hughes