So as I was leaving school today (albeit with a splitting headache)
Two of my colleagues got into a discussion about rap music and introduced some interesting opinions to me.
I come from the place or an opinion that words are extremely powerful, and when used incorrectly can cause irrevocable damage. I feel especially strong about hurtful or hate-filled words, the "n" word, b-ches, "hos," words that have bee intentionally used to degrade a person. I don't tolerate these words in my classroom and I don't really think they should be used in any way shape or form. Even if they are being used to "re-claim" a word for a groups own use. I think that people may hear the word and not understand its message and allow its hateful message to propagate. I am extremely strict in the classroom with these words, and I have difficulty getting my message across to my students. ( as I seem to be struggling here). I think that a hateful word is a hateful word, no matter who uses it.
Now this has become a hotly contested topic after don Imus was asked to leave the radio station he worked for-- and even more contested as Oprah brought the spotlight to rap music.
I agree with Oprah in a number of ways:
1) Racism and Sexism is a prevalent problem in Contemporary American Society and it needs to be confronted
2) Hip Hop, in using sexist and racist lyrics is contributing to this problem.
but I don't think its the only problem.
Let me go back to that conversation. These two other young teachers (of whom are both minorities), who are much better versed in Hip hop than I am, didn't completely agree that music needs to change. They believe that hip hop is an art form and art exists as its own medium, as to say, artists should be allowed to say what they want and it doesn't matter what Oprah says. They also said that using the n-word is part of an urban dialogue and it has nothing to do with hate or slavery, it is part of being an urban American.
Mark, one of the teachers said, "Rappers aren't raised to be role Models, they might drop out of school, they don't realize how widespread their message could become."
"And it usually doesn't become a problem until wealthy kids start listening to it."
They made some interesting points and made me think about art and the integrity of it. I still am pretty firm on my beliefs, but realize that my beliefs come from a place of white privilege, and that I might not see the whole picture.
It also got me thinking about the messages I let out as a teacher.