Bettina L. Love

Associate Professor of Educational Theory & Practice at the University of Georgia


Spring 2016: Nasir Jones Hiphop Fellowship

Get Free: Hip Hop Civics Education

Project Description

Get Free: Hip Hop Civics Education

The research project proposed herein, entitled Get Free: Hip Hop Civics Education, aims to create a multimedia Hip Hop civics curriculum for middle to high school students. The curriculum will center on Hip Hop music and culture examined within the framework of resistance narratives to promote the traditional principles of civic engagement (i.e., voice, agency, active participation, and real opportunities to make a difference (McCoy & Scully, 2002)), while ushering in Hip Hop civics education that values the contemporary everyday realities of urban youth who endure the social, economic, physiological, and psychological trauma of coping with the racial injustices of “post - racial” America.

In the wake of the recent police killings of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and 12 year - old Tamir Rice, and the subsequent failure to indict in the former two cases, users of multi - modal platforms (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook) created hashtags like  #ICantBreathe (referring to Garner’s documented last words), #HandsUpDontShoot (in reference to Brown’s alleged last action), and #BlackLivesMatter in order to bring the pain and realities of Black people to the forefront of public conversation.  These highly visible platforms for discussing such issues highlight the need for informal and formal educational spaces for youth to learn, discuss, vent, heal, resist, and escape  – if not only in their minds – from the stress and fatigue of subtle and overt racial hostility toward Black and Brown bodies.  Thus, it is equally important for educators to establish curricula that teach urban youth how to create sustainable change through local and community engagement, rooted in the culture and fearless voice of urban America, i.e., Hip Hop.

As such, the goal of Get Free is to create an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, and multimedia Hip Hop civics curriculum that is vested in democratic education and cultural pluralism, while focusing on Hip Hop as a “semipublic and a counterpublic space of 3 engagement with and resistance to mainstream narratives, policies, and actions” (Banks, 2010, p. 25). Get Free will curate for students examples of a variety of ways to resist  – from silence, to dress, to making music, to actual protest – all while working in solidarity with others. Using Hip Hop as the lynchpin of the curriculum, students will examine how individual and collective narratives that challenge domination can also be possibilities for resistance and civic action.

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