Giving this generation a bad “rap”

11 Sep

Since the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Hip Hop has been the voice of a generation lost to urban decay and moral ruin. Initially envisioned as a way for the repressed youth culture of the African-American community to voice their displeasure in their social standing and in this country. With this movement and change in status quo came new dress, slang, and stereotypes that never seem to stereotype a generation of young African-Americans. It is through these stereotypes that many young African-Americans find themselves unable to make their own place in the world or earn an education as they are immediately pigeon-holed into being a “hoodlum” based on their appearance when in fact they are anything but what the music gives off in perception. The point is that just because someone looks like a typical person you’d see in rap videos, there is no reason to believe that they are just another person comfortable being a walking cliché’.

In her article, “The Miseducation of Hip-Hop”, writer Evelyn Jamilah gives voice to a generation feeling scorned by the genre as they are stereotyped and categorized based on their preference of style choices. One such student, Jason Hinmon, a senior at the University of Delaware feels that his professors “didn’t know how to deal” with him and figured he “was some hip-hop hoodlum who wasn’t interested in being a good student” (245). Two of Jason’s classmates, freshman Kholiswa Laird and junior Davren Noble, also have differing views on the style choices of the hip-hop generation. Laird views it as a “stupid reason” to dress like that because she feels “a lot of them feel like they’re selling out if they wear proper clothes.” On the other hand, Noble sees it as “just keepin it real” and believes that “if somebody wants to hire me but they don’t like my braids, then either of two things will happen: they’ll just have to get over it or I just won’t get the job” (250). Keeping in mind that it is a culture and that those who follow it or a member of it wish to dress in an imitable way, I feel there should be some discretion to what situations (like job interviews) that they should dress in this fashion.

However, I also feel that it is sill wrong to stereotype someone based on how they dress, act, or what music they listen to. This not only applies to the youthful hip-hop culture, but also to “emos”, “goths”, or any other ridiculous stereotypes. While music has a way of speaking out to other people and connecting them, as can style and lifestyle choices, it is wrong to classify someone based on those standards. Rather, professors like Jason’s should make an effort to get to know him as a person or as a student more than just a caricature. Then again, I suppose it is always easier to classify than to identify, isn’t it?

Works Cited

Jamilah, Evelyn. “The Miseducation of Hip-Hop.” Common Culture: Reading and

Writing about American Popular Culture. Ed. Michael

Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. Sixth ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice

Hall, 2009. 244-252. Print.

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