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April 14, 2005

Feminism in Hip Hop Conference Part Deux


Greetings From The Academy...>




DAY TWO

(To the tune of “You Must Learn” and the entire Edutainment LP, thanks to KRS-1 and Boogie Down Productions…)

After much more chauffering, and the subsequent skipping of the morning panels at the FHHC, I finally found a parking space close to International House (not the international house of pancakes (nor hoe cakes)) and made my way inside the Assembly Hall just in time for the introductions to the 1 p.m. panel “The Hip Hop Archive: Standards and Questions in Hip Hop Research”. The panel included speakers Marcyliena Morgan, Dionne Bennett and Dawn-Elissa Fischer. Please accept my up-front disclaimer that I didn’t record this session (audio recording was kyboshed), and I’m working from my wild-style notes. Onward and upward, toward the Ivory Tower…

The Hip Hop Archive was once housed at Harvard, and is now at Stanford. The archive is a resource for academics and Hip Hop heads alike. First we heard from Marcyliena Morgan who is the Director and Founder of the archive. I took copious notes (no, for real, serrriously I did), so please bear with me and note that what I’m writing in this post comes from the presentations of the panelists, not my own sick & twisted mind.

Marcyliena spoke about Hip Hop’s legitimacy within the academy, which turned out to be a pivotal argument throughout the conference, and one of the underlying divisions. She let everyone know that the Hip Hop Archive is a resource for the Hip Hop community at large. This fall the archive will host a conference entitled “What’s Goin’ On – Hip Hop Scholars Meet Hip Hop Journalists” – interested parties should check the website for updates. She posed a few questions, simply as food for thought – what is Hip Hop within academia? For academics working with Hip Hop, how do you develop your career? She mentioned self-promotion and how as an academic you must continually promote yourself and your image in order to stay at the forefront. She also posited that it’s nearly impossible to maintain an academic schedule and a “Hip Hop schedule” simultaneously. And that it is literally impossible to maintain both schedules during exam time. She was serious.

She also outlined some of the “standards of Hip Hop”. She posed further questions. What are the gender differences in Hip Hop? She pointed out that the majority of Hip Hop researchers are women. I repeat, the majority of Hip Hop researchers are women. She also asked the audience to think critically about the race hierarchies within Hip Hop (assuming she meant both the business side and the music/creative side).

She then mentioned the next panelist sitting to her right, Dionne Bennett who’s an Anthropology PhD from Loyola. Marcyliena mentioned that Dionne is one of the foremost writers on Black love and emotion. Dionne went on to explain that she sees a number of General Principles, or GPs, of feminism in Hip Hop.

1st – Yo Mama’s Not the Only Woman on Your Side

2nd – Poor women are drowning next to their brothers (Hip Hop ignores poor women)

3rd – Hip Hop Feminists are not ignoring misogyny but refuse to let the issue obscure the complexity of Hip Hop or limit discourse on Hip Hop. (insert gunshots here 10X)

4th – Calling yourself a feminist empowers you through naming, self identification, and joining a collective movement.

Another question for the audience (there will be a quiz later) – How do we recentralize everyday feminism and apply it to Hip Hop feminist discourse?

Now wake the fuck up, ‘cause she drops it HARD right here…

“THEY’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT ME!” – Refusing to acknowledge yourself as a target won’t prevent you from being shot. This exact theme/quote comes up in Rachel Raimist’s documentary film Nobody Knows My Name, when the illustrious Zenobia Simmons explains that “girls be like, oh they said Bitch, Hoe, but they ain’t talking about me though” and goes on to let those girls know, “YES, they are talking about you.” Again, refusing to acknowledge yourself as a target won’t prevent you from becoming one.

She cautions the audience to be wary of white academic feminists who tend to apply and appropriate others’ struggles upon themselves.

So what do the feminist movement and Hip Hop have in common? Both are LIFE and DEATH issues. Hip Hop makes a way out of no way. The movement is transforming marginal Hip Hop discourses (in other words, discussions of women in Hip Hop) and using them to create main discourses. To many young, feminist women of color, the “third wave” felt like a small puddle. “Hip Hop Feminism is the true third wave,” explains Dionne.

Next up to speak is Dawn-Elissa Fischer, a University of Florida student pursuing a PhD in Anthropology. Her company is Edutainment 4 Life, a non-profit organization. Dawn-Elissa prepared an amazing powerpoint presentation from her research on ethnography of Hip Hop artists in Japanese culture, which she had to cut short due to the familiar “lack of time” but a few key points she discussed were

1. State-Regulated Identities. For example, have you ever become confused when filling out those boxes? Are you Black, white, Asian, Latina, or other? Do you check one box, or a number of boxes, or no box at all? Those are the few choices for your state-regulated identity.

2. Hip Hop is a trope of blackness. In other words, when Japanese artists do Hip Hop music, they’re assuming a Black identity. They’re borrowing blackness, and to borrow blackness is to borrow gender and sexuality. This is a main reason why non-black youth use Hip Hop in their political strategies.

3. Hip Hop leaves behind a racialized/sexualized residue. Hip Hop is transnational and translational. Hip Hop simultaneously exploits and subverts Black/white and Male/Female binaries.


At this point the panelists broke for questions. I went up to the mic and posed a question about Hip Hop journalism, framed around the fact that the source does very little to fact-check, research or confirm quotes when they publish pieces. I asked how we can standardize fact-checking/research within Hip Hop journalism and in what ways we can control/regulate companies such as the source that we neither own nor operate. I think that the panelists weren’t expecting such a question, and they did their best to offer possible solutions.

Yes, solutions.

Dawn-Elissa suggested that we all write/publish opinion-editorial or Op-Ed pieces, and that we employ ethnographic research methods. Also she mentioned blogging as part of the solution, as a way to publish thoughtful, researched critiques of Hip Hop culture as a means to inform and educate. Good shit.

Marcyliena, in answering another question posed to the panel, gave one of the most awesome and dead-on quotes I’ve heard in a while.

“NOT KNOWING IS NOT HIP HOP”. She framed this by saying that Hip Hop is all about ego, and braggadocio, and all about Knowledge. And that it’s very much “not Hip Hop” to be ignorant, unaware, uninformed, or under-educated when exploring a topic.

Yes, these ladies were dropping it. I just fed ya’ll a lot of information and knowledge here. Mind you, this panel and question and answer session was stuffed into a chock-full one hour and fifteen minutes. Each of the panelists could have easily presented for an hour, and questions could have gone on for an infinite amount of time. I applaud the presenters of the Feminism in Hip Hop Conference for what I hope will be an annual event. Next year, I hope that there’s more time to build, and some time set aside for a town-hall meeting and/or group session at the end of the conference to plan and create strategies for action.

There will be a third post on this, but I’ll let ya’ll digest this very large meal of Hip Hop and feminist discourse for a while before I get to the moment everyone is drooling for – Day Three and the Media Representations of Women in Hip Hop panel featuring Melyssa Ford, Jessy Tererro, Kim Osorio, and Cheryl L. Keyes.

Until next time,
MJ

5 Comments:

At 1:28 AM, Blogger Robbie said...

Prof. Dawn- taught my Honors hip hop class at the Univ of Florida- and by far that was the greatest class i have taken in my academic life.

the site is hot.

spoonieluv

 
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At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many of our modern drugs have harsh side-affects and cost the “earth”, so the next time you come down with a cold or the flu or anxiety symptom, why not try a gentle alternative that costs next to nothing?

Instead of immediately forking over large amounts of money for over-the-counter drugs, go to the kitchen cupboard and see what you can find to relieve your symptoms including anxiety symptom.

Here are some helpful hints for anxiety symptom …

A simple hot compress applied to the face is very soothing to those throbbing aches and pains of a blocked sinus, while a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief can provide welcome relief for similar conditions. While supplements of vitamin C, D and zinc will shorten the lifespan of a common cold, a hot lemon drink is also extremely good. And be sure to cuddle-up in bed when you have a cold, as it will make the body sweat out the germs.

Cool lemon juice and honey are a great soother for a sore throat and gives the body much-needed vitamin C at the same time The juice of one lemon in a glass of water is sufficient. Melt the honey in a little hot water for ease of mixing.

A smear of Vaseline or petroleum jelly will do wonders for those sore lips and nose that often accompany a cold.

A 'streaming cold' where the nose and eyes water profusely, can respond to drinking onion water. Simply dip a slice of onion into a glass of hot water for two seconds, then sip the cooled water throughout the day. Half an onion on the bedside table also alleviates cold symptoms because its odor is inhaled while you sleep.

People prone to catarrh may find that chewing the buds from a pine or larch throughout the day will clear up their condition in just a few days.

Do you suffer from sore eyes? If your eyes are sore from lengthy exposure to the sun, try beating the white of an egg and then spread it over a cloth and bandage the eyes with it. Leave the preparation on overnight. Soft cheese (quark) is also a good remedy for this condition.

For those unpleasant times when you suffer from diarrhea, two tablespoons of brown vinegar will usually fix the problem. Vinegar can be rather horrible to take, but who cares! The problem is more horrible. Vinegar can usually be found in most people's cupboards, so you don't need to worry about finding someone to run to the shop for you in an emergency.

Sleepless? Instead of reaching for sleeping pills, which can quickly become addictive, try this: Drink only caffeine free tea or coffee starting late in the afternoon.. Go to bed earlier rather than later, as being overtired tends to keep people awake. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. Use only pure wool or cotton sheets and blankets. Polyester materials can cause sweat and make you thirsty (if your child constantly asks for water throughout the night, this could be the reason).

And don't watch those scary movies just before retiring! If you still can't sleep, make a tea of lemongrass or drink a nightcap of herbal tea containing chamomile. It's easy to grow lemongrass in your garden or start a flower pot on the balcony for ease of picking. Simply steep a handful in boiling water for five minutes. Honey may be added for a sweetener.

Of course there will be times when you do need modern drugs, so if these simple remedies don't have the required affect, be sure to see a health care professional.


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