The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back: Youth, Activism, and Post-Civil Rights Politics

The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back: Youth, Activism, and Post-Civil Rights Politics

The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back: Youth, Activism, and Post-Civil Rights Politics

The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back: Youth, Activism, and Post-Civil Rights Politics

Synopsis

From youth violence, to the impact of high stakes educational testing, to editorial hand wringing over the moral failures of hip-hop culture, young people of color are often portrayed as gang affiliated, “troubled,” and ultimately, dangerous. The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back examines how youth activism has emerged to address the persistent inequalities that affect urban youth of color. Andreana Clay provides a detailed account of the strategies that youth activists use to frame their social justice agendas and organize in their local communities.

Based on two years of fieldwork with youth affiliated with two non-profit organizations in Oakland, California, The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back shows how youth integrate the history of social movement activism of the 1960s, popular culture strategies like hip-hop and spoken word, as well as their experiences in the contemporary urban landscape, to mobilize their peers. Ultimately, Clay’s comparison of the two youth organizations and their participants expands our understandings of youth culture, social movements, popular culture, and race and ethnic relations.

Excerpt

Whenever I think of an activist, I think of Tupac.
—Xochitl, 14

As a teenager, I read Nelson Mandela: the Man and the Movement, by Mary Bensen. I was mesmerized by the story of his life as an activist: how he joined the African National Congress (ANC), developed a military branch of the organization, was indicted and spent twenty-seven years in prison, separated from his wife, family, and friends—all in the name of freedom. I remember looking up to him as someone who gave up his life for “the cause” of ending apartheid in South Africa. His commitment was similar to that of the U.S. civil rights leaders I admired at the time, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Although Mandela was still in prison when I read his inspiring story of activism, I was convinced that the struggle and hardship he endured would guarantee a free South Africa.

A few years later, as an undergraduate, I read A Taste of Power by Elaine Brown. As I read Brown’s autobiography—which told the story of her childhood in Philadelphia, how she became a Black Panther Party member, and later the first chairwoman of the party— I felt the same sense of inspiration and awe as I had when I read Mandela’s story. Both of these leaders were activists involved in “the struggle,” fighting against inequality to improve their lives and those of the people in their communities. In both cases, I was also taken with the fact that these leaders are Black people, like me. As a young activist, I tried to live in their image.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.