we say ‘thug’ and ‘hood’ because we don’t like to say ‘poverty’

Last Thursday, my university’s Center for Women’s Studies sponsored a screening of the incredible new documentary “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” about, in director Byron Hurt’s words, “representations of manhood in hip hop culture.” The doc will be shown on PBS February 20 at 10 p.m. Check, as they say, local listings.

The turnout was great: about eighty students at a school typically thought of as attended mostly by commuters. And the conversation afterwards was as electrifying as anything I ever experienced in grad school, much less as an undergrad. The title of this blog entry comes from one of the many insightful observations made by students during the discussion.

In short, I was blown away.

We need more mainstream film and video projects like this one that bring together the voices of scholars, popular artists, fans, and activists to engage in conversations about popular culture–its creation, distribution, and consumption–and its impact. The New Yorks Times reports that “the documentary is being shown now at high schools, colleges and Boy’s Clubs, and in other forums, as part of an unusual public campaign sponsored by the Independent Television Service,” which has a webpage explaining the campaign. Amazing.

You know who also needs to see this documentary? People like this.

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3 thoughts on “we say ‘thug’ and ‘hood’ because we don’t like to say ‘poverty’

  1. yes!

    sounds like a great film – i’ll try to catch it on the 20th. but it also sounds like a great campus event. were any pictures taken? it’s important and potentially empowering for students, faculty, and staff to see images of people collectively gathering – especially when the collectivity takes place on their campus.

  2. No, unfortunately, there were no pix. It would have been great if there were. I’ve been to a number of campus events in the short time I’ve been here, and I’ve never seen anything nonrequired with this kind of turnout and participation.

  3. I love those electrifying discussions after events like that. The most engaging one I ever attended was during my master’s program at the University of Tennessee, when Gloria Steinem came to speak. The discussion afterwards was…well, like some kind of illegal stimulant. When it broke up, my friend and I went to Wendy’s and then back to her apartment and just sat up talking about feminism and our lives until 1 a.m.

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