Nas and Michael Eric Dyson hold a hip-hop forum for rich white kids

by Dr. Kimberly Brown
Recently, Nas and Michael E. Dyson discussed hip hop.  

They sat in a Georgetown lecture hall. The moderator is a professor there. Dyson teaches there. Nas referenced going to “Harvard and meeting Skip Gates” as measures of “progress.” None of the panelists represented a Black institution (record label, school or otherwise). 

Power, of course is always measured, harnessed, and utilized via institutions, not individuals. So although three “successful” Black men poetically postulated on a university stage, what does that mean? Y’all at Georgetown? Ok.. and? Does that translate into anything meaningful or substantial related to the very people (Black people) who make, disseminate, re-make and consume hip hop culture?  (Be clear, some groups are only consumers.)

Of course, Dyson is sharp. A wordsmith. Some excellent points. Nas is undeniably brilliant. But again, the audience = kids at Georgetown and others with access! So, then what’s the point? It’s always intriguing when public intellectuals and media create opportunities to speak about popular topics that convey a concern for society, but don’t have such conversations in spaces that include the primary subjects of the dialogue, the spaces that matter, the spaces that could actually transform the conversation. Imagine a conversation about the education of Black boys had in the hood.
Your local hood. Imagine that discussion being led by Nas and Dyson. Same points shared at the Georgetown panel, different space. Imagine Rich Homie Quan in on it. Imagine Lil’ Boosie contributing to a discussion on incarceration. Imagine this interaction as a regular phenomenon.
Useful power, real power, and sincerity of concern with the state of hip hop would allow for such a conference to happen. There are HBCUs centrally located in Black neighborhoods across the southern region of America that could work well as host facilities. It’s a simple matter of ownership versus freedom. One cannot possibly believe he is free if his people rarely benefit from his talent (be it intellectual or otherwise) while others reap well consistently. O… and why not talk to women about hip hop? Women maintain heavy influence in the industry as artists, managers, publicists, vixens, consumers, etc.
Here is the state of hip hop: It’s a thing. A product. Something cool to pontificate about as long as there is no real transformative benefit to its producers. When that changes, hip hop will be a revolution… again.
Kimberly D. Brown, Ph.D.
Director of The Blackberry Preserve: 
Counsel on Historical Interpretation, Cultural Relevancy and Marketing
KEEPING THE FLAVOR OF HISTORY FRESH
www.theblackberrypreserve.com
Let’s meet on Twitter and Instagram @blackberrykb

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14 Responses to Nas and Michael Eric Dyson hold a hip-hop forum for rich white kids

  1. Monasax March 31, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I’m a Hoya, and offended. What an ignorant, tactless article. Dr. Brown needs to research before she writes. And….if she insists on being such an Essentialist, has she never heard of Patrick Healey? Does she know anything about Georgetown? Does she know that Georgetown is an incredibly diverse community? Who is she to tell anyone what, where, and with whom they should converse? She writes, “Here is the state of hip hop: It’s a thing. A product. Something cool to pontificate about as long as there is no real transformative benefit to its producers. When that changes, hip hop will be a revolution… again.” She can substitute ‘education’ for ‘hip-hop’, and think about her reactionary, misinformed, regressive, reductionist stance.

    Reply
  2. Tyrell Sr. March 31, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I have read the many comments on here and I have found myself more and more shocked by the spiral of black people that are not really for their own. Have any of you ever seen the Hispanics, jews, whites, or whatever background that they may be from; so easily and readily run to white institutions to educate those who will soon be the CEO or politicians about their culture? The answer is no, and the issues that were raised in the discussion also should not have been brought out at the institution. That is my opinion and I wish that it was the majority of all of yours. We need to have a “black scholars,” spending more time in our neighborhoods and HBCU’s instead of the news media and white institutions.

    Ask yourself this question, with all of the African American during the Civil Rights Movement that went and spoke time and time again to either appeal to white peoples so called sense of morality or to explain why they do what they do, what has come of it? If you had a enemy then of course you are going to let them do all of the talking, show you the in’s and out’s of your culture all to come back and do whatever bidding that you wish to them. Has that not been the history of these people since the beginning? I guess we believe that Sociology is really used to study the cultures of people without doing anything with the data that is received. Come on people, put down the juice and open your eyes.

    I went to two HBCU’s and will not allow my children to attend a white institution, but you people will most likely tell me that I am wrong for that. Another question, would not a white man forbid his children from attending an HBCU? If you are being honest with yourself then you know that he would not allow it, so why do we?

    Reply
  3. 9th Wonder April 1, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    This particular article saddens me. I was also a part of the event at Georgetown University that evening, and this article is in no indicative of the what actually happened. First and foremost, the event was FREE to the public. Secondly, the audience was majority African-American, comprised of students of Georgetown, teens from the DMV area, as well as teachers from the DMV area as well. In all actuality, the particular demographic that the article says should of been receiving this talk, was there 10 fold. There was foresight, and well as insight in this forum throughout, which should not diminished because the talk was held at a PWI. Are we suggesting that just because it’s being held there that this space is only reserved for “rich white kids”? What message does that send our brothers and sisters who chose to attend a Georgetown, a Duke, or any other school that fits the “rich white kids” bill? Does this mean that they can’t live in these spaces? What does this say about the authenticity of hip-hop? Does this mean in order for this talk to be valid it has to be held in the “hood”? Hip-hop is not genius enough to live in the IVY League or the like? What does it also say about the lack of knowledge that HBCU’s old regime has about a culture that did NOT start with Boosie, but actually started to PREVENT gang violence in the 1970′s, and is now being shunned at most HBCUs on having a curriculum that can dispel all of these myths about the culture. I would suggest research, or even interview some of the fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers from the DMV area who brought their family members to GU to hear this talk.

    Also…..Dr. James Peterson is head of Africana Studies at LEHIGH….not GU….

    Reply
  4. 9th Wonder April 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    This particular article saddens me. I was also a part of the event at Georgetown University that evening, and this article is in no way indicative of the what actually happened. First and foremost, the event was FREE to the public. Secondly, the audience was majority African-American, comprised of students of Georgetown, teens from the DMV area, as well as teachers from the DMV area as well. In all actuality, the particular demographic that the article says should of been receiving this talk, was there 10 fold. There was foresight, and well as insight in this forum throughout, which should not diminished because the talk was held at a PWI. Are we suggesting that just because it’s being held there that this space is only reserved for “rich white kids”? What message does that send our brothers and sisters who chose to attend a Georgetown, a Duke, or any other school that fits the “rich white kids” bill? Does this mean that they can’t live in these spaces? What does this say about the authenticity of hip-hop? Does this mean in order for this talk to be valid it has to be held in the “hood”? Hip-hop is not genius enough to live in the IVY League or the like? What does it also say about the lack of knowledge that HBCU’s old regime has about a culture that did NOT start with Boosie, but actually started to PREVENT gang violence in the 1970′s, and is now being shunned at most HBCUs on having a curriculum that can dispel all of these myths about the culture? I would suggest research, or even interview some of the fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers from the DMV area who brought their family members to GU to hear this talk.

    Also…..Dr. James Peterson is head of Africana Studies at LEHIGH….not GU….

    Reply
  5. Obed Norman April 11, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    It’s a real pity that Boyce Watkins and his associates are transforming all his venues into vehicles for venting his professional jealousies. The Black community is not all served by petty articles such as this one.

    Reply

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