Monday, February 18, 2013

Colleges Love Hip Hop, But Do They Love Black Men Too?

Professor Travis Gosa at Cornell has just penned an important and insightful article in the Chronicle of Higher Education describing how colleges and universities around the country are adopting hip hop studies courses and programs, but are leaving behind those most responsible for hip hop, the young black male.

According to Gosa:  "Hip-hop represents the latest attempt by contemporary universities to rebrand themselves, as competition for students, financial support, and star professors intensifies.  This month the College of William & Mary followed in the footsteps of Cornell, Harvard, and colleges that are part of the Atlanta University Center [Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta] by establishing a hip-hop library collection. With more than 300 college courses related to hip-hop offered each year, full-fledged hip-hop degrees represent a niche repositioning in the education marketplace, even though hip-hop scholars have a hard time articulating the worth of those programs for future success in the labor market.

Institutions of higher learning are failing to address the most problematic irony of hip-hop studies: The explosion of hip-hop in the academy has not coincided with positive educational gains for black men. While colleges race to analyze the street-born music, body movements, art, and poetry, the people whose images are most associated with hip-hop—young black men—continue to be left behind."

Gosa touches on the prison regime in his piece, though it does not discuss the War on Drugs and the Prison Industrial Complex as major reasons that a paucity of young black male students exists at most universities across the country.  Gosa argues persuasively that we must adopt affirmative measures to ensure that black male students focus on garnering a college education.  In addition, we must strive to end the War on Drugs as currently constituted in order to free young African American and Latino males to reach their greatest educational potential. 

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