Education & cultural identity: Hip Hop culture's aim toward the re-Africanization of the acculturated subject
Rosser, Eric Jay
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This study examines and explores the transformative potential of Hip Hop cultural text in Re-Africanizing post-Civil Rights African Americans who attended schools controlled and maintained by the dominant cultural orientation. Shujaa (1994) notes that one of the roles the process of schooling in the United States "has been to effect a gradual destruction of the cultural identity of African Americans which is "consistent with the promulgation of a common American culture"(p.30). Dove (1994) asserts that, [s]chooling is needed to reinforce the cultural values and beliefs that maintain existing relations of power. These cultural values and beliefs have historically undermined the integrity and dignity of Africans while at the same time justifying African oppression (p. 344). As a result, African American's socialization within the schooling process results in African Americans being taught to interpret the world through the lens of the dominant cultural orientation and behave accordingly (Carruthers, 1994, p.45). As a counter hegemonic function, Re-Africanization serves as a means by which acculturated African diasporic people reclaim cultural identity that has been systematically challenged and annihilated by hegemonic cultural innovations designed to maintain and support systems of domination. Hip Hop cultural text challenge basic hegemonic ideologies of African and African American culture and history indoctrinated in schools controlled and maintained by the nation-state. The experiences of post Civil Rights African Americans born between 1965 and 1975 is of unique importance as they were the first generation to: (1) benefit and suffer from bussing policies associated with school desegregation and integration, (2) suffer as youth from the political regime and conservatism of the Reagan years, and (3) contribute to the foundation of Hip Hop culture either through active participation or consumption of Hip Hop cultural text. Utilizing narrative analysis, this study explores the consumption of Hip Hop cultural text and schooling experiences of post Civil Rights African Americans to establish the influence knowledge attained and experiences, which impact the development of cultural identity. Results suggest that Hip Hop cultural text, as a postmodern form of Re-Africanization, facilitates the transformation of cultural identity and instills a sense of responsibility to contribute to the African cultural continuum.