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Harvard Researchers Examine Role of Hip-Hop in Civic Education

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Jul 24, 2015

Dr. Bettina Love, a Nasir Jones hip-hop research fellow at Harvard University and the Hip-Hop Archive Research Institute and a professor at the University of Georgia, is set to begin research on the impact of hip-hop education on the civic values of millennials. She argues that, while many question the utility of hip-hop as an educational tool, her data suggests that hip-hop can act as a potent catalyst for discussions around racial oppression and a blueprint for the modern civil rights movement.

"Centering Hip Hop in the classroom exposes students to the ingenuity, genius, and creativity of urban youth past and present,” says Love. “When Hip Hop scholars place Hip Hop in the context of higher education, the robustness of Hip Hop culture allows us to have complex class discussions about the contemporary everyday realities of urban youth who endure the social, economic, physiological, and psychological trauma of coping with the racial injustices of 'post-racial' America."

Supporting this interpretation, Shawn Ginwright, who will be a keynote speaker at the 2015 Conference for Community Arts Education, has argued that hip-hop can act as a tool for multicultural education that is designed to instigate youth-led social change. “To seriously discuss black youth identity, educators, policymakers, and researchers must consider the inseparable relationship between black youth identity and hip hop culture,” Ginwright writes in Black in School. “Failing to do so is a gross oversight.”

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