A Response to “Hip Hop: a Roadblock or Pathway to Black Empowerment”

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William Norman
Lancaster
ENGL- 1301
18 September, 2012
A Response to “Hip Hop: A Roadblock or pathway to Black Empowerment” Geoffrey Bennett’s article Hip Hop: A Roadblock or Pathway to Black Empowerment illustrates the influence hip hop and rap music has had on not only the music industry but mainstream culture, African Americans to be specific. Geoffrey Bennett, a senior English Major from Voorhees, New Jersey goes over many aspects of how hip hop came to be “the forefront of American attention.” He starts from its early history in the 1980s as an African American exclusive music genre to what is now a worldwide phenomenon. He reviews the affect it has had on the lifestyle of many people and the ways it’s changed the way people speak, attire, hairstyles, and overall character. Bennett points out those rappers must be aware of the messages they send out as well as their intended audiences, and as long as there’s a mutual understanding between interested parties the special art form and rich African American heritage can be protected. Points in the article have been made that are arguable to say the least, but if some of these points are addressed and maintained, the genre can survive. Rap music impresario Russell Simmons quotes in the article that, “Hip-Hop is more powerful than any American cultural movement we’ve ever had.” which I would have to strongly disagree with for many reasons. Three cultural movements that are arguably more powerful than Hip-Hop would have to include the American Revolution, the civil rights movement, and women’s rights movement. The American Revolution is what created America, and gave us independence from Great Britain. If the colonist had never stood up against the British Parliament, America would have still been under British control today, and would’ve never been granted independence. Another powerful cultural movement would have to be the civil rights movement. The idea of the civil rights movement was to bring equality under the law to all Americans, as well as end discrimination to African Americans and other minority groups. Segregation ended due to the civil rights movement, and allowed us to grow as a more unified nation. As prominent civil rights leader Martin Luther King said, “A man should not be judged by the color of his skin but by the content of his character." Last, but not least would have to be the woman’s rights movement. Some of the accomplishments achieved by this movement would include voting rights for women, equal pay for equal work, the right to serve on active duty in the armed forces, and many others. All three of these movements helped in some way to create the Hip-Hop movement, which clearly show that Hip-Hop was not the most powerful cultural movement America has ever had. A problem that Bennett makes clear is how impressionable the younger audiences are when they are exposed to rap and Hip-Hop. There’s many debate on the topic of children listening to the music, but before we can argue over whether children should be able to listen to the music we must go over the pros and cons to the music genre. The positive side is that rap is an accepted form of self-expression, and educators have shown that it has inspired kids to write. Many kids feel they can relate to the songs, and it persuades them to write their own in an attempt to make sense of the world around them. On the other hand Hip-Hop can have some negative effects as well. A large number of artists such as Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Eminem, and others involve the use of profanity, violence, references to sex and drugs in many of their songs. Obviously exposing such things to children so young can affect their views at an early age. It can lead to what some could call “experimenting” to where a child could experiment with drugs and sex. Ultimately I believe it’s up to the parents to control what type of music their child is being influenced by. Parents have the ability to control what their child listens to...
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