Archive for the ‘The Back Issue’ Category

The full 2007 Spring issue of DEconstruction is now available on our website for your reading pleasure. You can go directly to the issue here, or check out the other back issues here.


Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop: a Review
by LaMar Gibson

Bakari Kitwana (the author of The Hip-Hop Generation) delivers a new and different analysis of Hip-Hop culture, specifically, and race in America, generally, by questioning if the stereotypes that are perpetuated about white Hip-Hop kids are actually fact. Kitwana addresses the authenticity and motivation of white youths participating in Hip-Hop. His discussion of how to build a strong political coalition amongst the Hip-Hop community, regardless of color, is in an innovative, non-traditional manner that is neither accusatory nor soft in its examination of Hip-Hop in the 21st century.

So will white kids find that they are only posers or, even worse, cultural thieves in the same vein as the generation that stole rock ‘n’ roll? Will they feel like my roommate (a white male) did when I first told him of the title? He replied, “I don’t know if I want to read this. I might find out something negative about myself.” I don’t believe so; instead they should have a better historic perspective with which to contemplate their involvement in Hip-Hop culture.

The first assertion by Kitwana is that assuming white kids want to be Black is incredibly broad, overly simplistic and quite inaccurate when examined. This is dispelled by the following argument: while Black culture has always been marketed as “cool,” the area that is carved out for young white males is far more attractive. So what’s so appealing about Hip-Hop?

In order to answer that the reader is given a detailed timeline that serves as a foundation to understand the space that was carved out for the white kids of Generation X and Y to inhabit. The timeline begins in the 1970s and includes among other variables: a rise in prescription drug use among middle class children and the institutionalization of the civil rights movement.

The rise in prescription drug use among the middle class is a subject being investigated more and more as the number of commercials for cure-by-pill increases. A staggering fact is stated in the text: in 1990, 900,000 children were using Ritalin but by the year 2000, 5 million children had been prescribed the drug. This practice of placing middle-class children on the track of drug usage at an early age is equivalent to the decades-old policy of placing “under-performing” Black children on the special education track. The result is that youths of both groups seek to rebel against dominant institutions. In Hip-Hop, white kids apparently saw a vehicle through which they could fight back against policies that have been set in place to favor wealthy white males only.

The institutionalization of the civil rights movement helped to usher in a different perspective of Black culture, which this nation had never before witnessed. Children of Generation X were the first generation to grow to maturity in a society where Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and others have become established as contributors to American history on par with white historic figures like Abraham Lincoln and Ben Franklin. Kitwana is not naïve in believing that these Black leaders have become as revered, but as he writes, “this repositioning of African-American culture…raised national awareness of Black American culture, at least superficially.” Due to the inclusion of the Civil Rights Movement and its icons in the history books, as well as the creation and celebration of Kwanzaa, Generation X has become the first generation to be born and mature in a society that actually acknowledges the contributions of its Black citizens.

The political potential of the Hip-Hop generation, black and white, is saved for investigation in the last chapter. It is exceptionally interesting considering the hum around Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. While writing about this “Hip-Hop voting bloc,” Kitwana brings up the issue of how to move a Hip-Hop political agenda and if it can be accomplished without the help of white Hip-Hop kids.

He argues that it cannot be accomplished without their help as long as “young Blacks remain a minority in a majority-rule government.” According to the author, the Black Hip-Hop community must discard pre-conceived notions of white Hip- Hop kids and allow this population to earn entrance into this culture in order to unite and change the racism upon which America has been built.

However, organizers of the Hip-Hop voting bloc must beware of whites that seek to advance their own agendas or are agents of the two dominant political parties and merely seek to pimp the vote of the Hip-Hop generation. MTV’s “Rock The Vote” and P. Diddy’s “Vote or Die” campaigns are seen by Kitwana as necessary to motivate an increase in Generation X voting but inevitably they have still been used by both Republicans and Democrats to cultivate more and more voters for their own partisan needs. National movements such as the HSAN (Hip-Hop Summit Action Network) as well as local organizations and other grassroots groups are cited as progression towards a unified Hip-Hop political agenda that includes providing alternative political parties that appeal to more young Americans.

Kitwana’s assessment of white kids in Hip-Hop is not searing or heavyhanded upon the white population. It does raise questions that anyone interested in race or Hip-Hop should consider but does so in a way where dialogue actually can be formed from its claims and not used as a hammer with which to beat another population over the head.


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In case you missed it the first time, the DEconstruction blog will periodically post articles from issues past worth reading. Here is the Back Issue

Guide to… How to Remedy Awkward Situations (Spring ’07)
by Amy Saltzman

Every day there are stories centered on it, people complaining about it, and Facebook groups dedicated to it…the awkward situation. If you haven’t fallen victim to the plight of the awkward, you probably don’t get out of the house enough. It is an unavoidable complex that plagues students and adults alike. So how does one avoid things like an embarrassingly long silence or ill-timed laughter? I have experienced enough awkward moments to be blackmailed for the rest of my life, and while I haven’t perfected the remedy, I have found that there are ways to flee the scene with minimal damage done to your pride. Here are a few tips and pointers that may help to make it through some of the most well-known awkward moments.

9:55 am

Awkward: You’re walking to class by yourself when you see a friend of a friend. You figure you’ll make friendly conversation by slowing your pace and talking to them. All goes well until about thirty seconds into the conversation when you get done asking how their week end went and how their classes are going. This is when awkward silence makes its debut, and you’re forced to walk side by side without anything to say, staring ambiguously at random objects and wishing you had brought your iPod.

Remedy: When all has gone sour, try and split from the friend as soon as possible and take a detour. Any brick path away from them is a good path, no matter how far from your class it may be. Even if you are a few minutes tardy, it is a worthwhile sacrifice for the sake of avoiding the walk of awkward hell.

11:14 am

Awkward: You’re walking to your second class when you get to the double doors of the building and are faced with a dilemma. There are people walking behind you, but they’re neither close enough to hold the door for or far enough to close the door behind you. You decide to be nice and just hold the door open, assuming the people that are following you will get the hint and speed up their pace. Instead, the people go so slow you swear they’re going backwards, but they already caught your eye with a silent acknowledgement that you will hold the door until they feel like getting there. Meanwhile, you end up holding the door so long that you look like the old people that Walmart hires to greet customers.

Remedy: Just let go of the door. Odds are that one of the ridiculously slow walkers will all of a sudden morph into a marathon runner to catch the door and maybe slip you a dirty look. Avoiding eye contact works and hoping that they’re not in your next class works best. If you feel like it’s already too awkward, just pretend you see a friend, make the “Oh, hey!” wave, and dart off on your way.

12:05 pm

Awkward: You’re leaving class and you head for the double doors signaling your freedom. However, this time someone holds the door open for you. You say “Thanks!” a little too excitedly, but just let it go. However, then you realize that there are two pairs of double doors, and they hold it for you again. You say “Thank-you” once again, or maybe you mumble something incoherently, but either way the person in front of you gives you a bit of a weird look or awkward laugh because they don’t know if they should respond or ignore you that second time around. Meanwhile, the joke’s on you.

Remedy: Try not to take it too personally. Saying “Thank-you” twice tends to be a bit of an overkill, so maybe the second mumble is a more appropriate gesture. However, if the person makes an effort to cock their head around to face you, they probably want a double dose of gratitude. Just try to be the first person to make it to the double set of double doors next time (however be weary of a second occurrence of the previous awkward door-holding instance).

1:30 pm

Awkward: You finally have some time to relax in your room, and even though you may be hungry or have to pee, you instead begin checking Facebook. You’re cruising through the news feed when all of a sudden you see that a Facebook friend has just uploaded a ton of pictures. Before you know it, you’ve spent twenty-five minutes mesmerized by a screen filled with pictures of people you don’t even know when all of a sudden something breaks your concentration. There’s a, “Oh, hey” from behind, and you realize you’ve been caught in the act of Facebook stalking by the person who you were currently stalking. And the mortification has only just begun.

Remedy: Try arranging your body in such a position that enables you to cover up almost the entire screen without looking obvious about it. However, if they have already caught you red-handed, try and start conversation that leads them away from your dirty deeds. If the picture that is on the screen is of a foreign country they visited or a vacation they went on, it’s okay to comment like, “Oh yeah, I just happened to see this picture of you from (insert name of place), and I have been  wanting to go. How did you like it?” Warning: this approach will not work with drunken weekend pics at Shaggy’s or some thing of that genre; then it just sounds weird.

4:00 pm

Awkward: After some further procrastination and maybe a nap, you decide to go work out because you still don’t feel like doing homework. You are at the gym, and there’s some moderate traffic with sweaty girls on bikes, sweaty boys checking out the girls on bikes, and so on and so forth. Meanwhile you’re minding your own business doing some hardcore crunches and actually beginning to take the workout seriously. Then all of a sudden the constricting muscles twist and pull in such a manner that out of nowhere it happens. You just farted. The horror contained in that split second of loud, free-flowing air is almost impossible to describe.

Remedy: Play it off by trying to move your shoes around on the floor in hopes of making a scuffing sound that also resembles a fart. If it works, you can hope to have earned yourself the benefit of the doubt from anyone whose wandering ears caught your melodious surprise. In the best case scenario, everyone around you has their iPod on, and wouldn’t even hear a bomb drop.

6:00 pm

Awkward: You head to dinner to meet up with some friends and are pleasantly surprised because it turns out that a larger, more general group of friends has decided to join the dining festivities as well. You guys are chatting away and you’re reminiscing with an old buddy whom you wish you kept in touch with more often. While asking how things are going, you slip in a personal note that you could have sworn they had told you about, such as, “Oh, and I’m really sorry that they had to put your dog, Smokey, to sleep over winter break.” However, from the look in their confused, glazed eyes, you realize the damage that’s been done. How did you actually know the deep inner turmoil resulting from the death of man’s best friend? Your friend hadn’t mentioned the incident to you after all; their Facebook status had told you so.

Remedy: The name of any close mutual friends should be mentioned right now. If there is a chance that this acquaintance may have told anyone else about Smokey, hopefully you’ll mention the name of the mutual friend that they confided in. If you are able to convince them that you heard the story from a friend of theirs, it is a more socially acceptable alternative to admitting your Facebook obsession.

6:15 pm

Awkward: You’re trying to get something to eat, but tonight is burger night at the dining hall, and the lines look more like American Idol auditions than dinner in Delaware. You finally are able to get out of the mess of students, and as you try to crane your neck to see over the crowd, someone catches your elbow with their tray. In what feels like an hour, your glass makes a slow, terrible, descent from your tray to the hard floor. You watch it tumble, already cringing with the knowledge of what is going to happen next: it smashes into tiny glass daggers on the floor. Everything stops and not a sound is heard; the entire dining hall has seemingly turned into the Morris Library and you feel like the obnoxious kid on the cell phone.

Remedy: Based on numerous past and current studies in this field of awkwardness, there has yet to be an official remedy for this situation. Until students conquer their impulsive urge to applaud at the first sign of broken glassware, there seems to be no sign of hope.

Although these are only a small spattering of the immense variety of situations that that awkwardness may assume, I hope that they give you an idea of how to make a classier exit when everything that could go wrong, has. Sure, there are still going to be Facebook slip-ups, regrettable hookups, and continuous situations that make you shake your head and ask “Why me?”, but preparation is your best bet to dealing with awkwardness is a less awkward fashion.

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