Dr. Utley

People often ask why I write about hip hop. I get it. I’m from Indiana. I’ve never written a lyric. I’m not a dancer. I don’t graffiti. I’ve never owned any vinyl. And I’m young enough to have no memories of “Rapper’s Delight” first playing on the radio. When I show up as the only woman on the hip hop panel, people side eye me. Former students have confessed to wondering on the first day of my hip hop class, what is she going to teach us about hip hop? Apparently, I don’t look hip hop (but you can see that I’m clearly trying in this picture).

I’d like to answer the question once and for all. I write about hip hop because I’m fascinated by how people use language to vie for power. Hip hop is all about shifting power. I dig how hip hop heads without traditional access to power use their voices, their bodies, and their creative skills to empower themselves to resist silencing and other forms of oppression. I also write about hip hop to challenge its misdirected empowerment that celebrates heterosexual masculinity at the expense of women and LGBTQ communities. Hip hop has empowered me to write and speak the truth about the benefits and detriments of power for the hip hop generation. And whether I look the part or not, I’m a ride or die member of the hip hop generation too.



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