Essay On Hip Hop Culture

2256 Words10 Pages
For the past four decades, African-Americans have been highly visible in the realms of popular culture through the legacy of the hip hop nation. Hip hop culture has vast and complex formations across the country and the globe, but popular representations are most frequently tied to the “culture of poverty” and violence that many social scientists have claimed exists within poor, urban, African-American communities (Ensminger 1). The diseased language of discourse surrounding the “tangle of pathology” that pervades hyper-visible misrepresentations of particular black communities and black expressive cultures are frequently utilized to dehumanize and devalue the black lived experience. This has produced a narrow scope through which blackness is represented and understood, as well as a lingering effect in African-American self-perception that is both disempowering and limiting to self-expression. In 2003, James Spooner disrupted popular representation by examining the marginalized experience of African-Americans in the predominantly white punk scene, while also expanding the category for black cultural expression in his documentary Afro-Punk: The ‘Rock n Roll Nigger’ Experience. Today, Afro-Punk (AP) embodies an online cultural movement that represents what afropunk.com refers to as “the other black experience.” From the general AP website, to Instagram and Twitter accounts, to an active Facebook page with almost a hundred thousand likes, this small but growing community has moved beyond the confines of the punk music genre and become a cultural movement which celebrates “the creativity and freedom of spirit in alternative Black culture” by exhibiting music, art, film, fashion, and more (Afropunk, Facbeook.com). Guided by the punk pr... ... middle of paper ... ...essity of a “healthy, honest vibrant(not sterile and repressed) cultural space” (Rose 11). However, this space does not only have to exist within hip hop. What attracts me to Afro-Punk is the acceptance of the space of alterity. It is through this alterity that their creative agency is realized. The experience of epistemic violence that has marginalized African-Americans within western society, African-Americans within the predominantly white punk scene, and Afro-Punks within popular media representations of African-Americans has fostered the creation of a space in which alterity is the only requirement. When I complete this project, I hope to have created a comprehensive outline of the empowering potentialities of the Internet that is critical yet optimistic, and rooted in the creative energy that exists within the often unexplored spaces of alterity and abjection.
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