By: Christine Parisi
Popular Culture and Concepts of Black Masculinity
During last night’s event, Popular Culture and the Concepts of Black Masculinity, Dr. Derek Jenkins, a graduate of Cincinnati University informed the audience of his overall goal for the discussion. Highlighting an assortment of ideas, Dr. Jenkins asked the audience to please return for tomorrow night’s follow-up event, which will be starting at 7:00 p.m. in the Lane Center.
Dr. Jenkins began his dialogue by giving a brief biography of himself. He emphasized the many struggles he encountered when he first attended college. “I did not have my priorities in order,” he stated, "considering I only attended based on my basketball scholarship.” He explained that he found himself partaking in many things other than school work and eventually decided to leave college. Sometime after leaving college, Dr. Jenkins received the news that he was going to become a father. “I knew things had to change,” he stated, “I knew I had to get serious.” He then completed college all the way through, achieving his doctorate.
Diverging into another topic, Dr. Jenkins proposed a question to the audience: “How did the word ghetto become synonymous with black culture?” As people searched for an answer, he went on to explain that the original meaning stems from ancient Egyptian times and WWII when Jewish people were exiled. Dr. Jenkins proposed this idea because he wanted the audience to begin thinking about the roots of hip hop and how it has gotten to where it is today.
Moving forward with new ideas as they came to him, Dr. Jenkins asked the audience if they think that hip-hop is one of the main influences on manhood, specifically influencing African American men. Most of the audience believed this idea to be accurate, while only two individuals were left to defend the other side. Those who agreed with the question argued its truth due to the media’s constant portrayal of African American people in a certain light. The opposing two argued family is the main influence.
Dr. Jenkins continued by speaking about the initial intentions of hip-hop music compared to what it has become today. Hip-hop is constructed from music such as blues, R&B, jazz, and black expression. The five components that make up hip-hop are “breaking, dj-ing, graffiti, MC-ing, and knowledge of self." Jenkins was amazed that although almost the entire audience agreed to be avid hip-hop listeners, no one knew the founder of hip-hop. The founder, Kevin Donovan was also the leader of his gang, Black Spades. Donovan realized that if he took his gang's, as well as other gangs', energy and put it towards something constructive, it would be a monumental movement.
As he began to tie up his speech, Dr. Jenkins explained that one of the main factors that has moved hip-hop away from its original purpose was the switch that occurred when small independently "black-owned" record industries were bought out by larger “white-owned” record industries. The other key factor which affected the roots of hip-hop was the rapidly growing drug industry, specifically cocaine.
Jenkins reminds the audience of the first radio broadcast of a hip-hop song, “Rappers Delight,” airing in 1979. Surprisingly, only six years later the first Gangsta Rap song entitled “PSK,” which stands for Park Side Killers, aired on the radio. This so-called “Gangsta Rap" was part of the downward spiral moving hip-hop even further away from what the founder had intended.
In conclusion, Dr. Jenkins explained that hip-hop is very influential. He stated, “It is internalized, and then if seen enough, it becomes normalized.” Dr. Jenkins used an example involving today’s hip-hop music, which casually speaks of date rape drugs. He noted that once we listen to enough songs with words such as “date rape,” it will eventually become normal to hear. Sadly, the audience agreed.
With that said, Dr. Jenkins implied that listeners should be aware of the negative influences artists have on society. To hear more about this, please join Dr. Jenkins tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. in the Lane Center for a deeper discussion on hip-hop in popular culture. A workshop will follow.