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Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wangstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America

Overview

Our national conversation about race is ludicrously out-of-date. Hip-hop is the key to understanding how things are changing. In a provocative book that will appeal to hip-hoppers both black and white and their parents, Bakari Kitwana deftly teases apart the culture of hip-hop to illuminate how race is being lived by young Americans. This topic is ripe, but untried, and Kitwana poses and answers a plethora of questions: Does hip-hop belong to black kids? What in hip-hop appeals to white youth? Is hip-hop ...

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Overview

Our national conversation about race is ludicrously out-of-date. Hip-hop is the key to understanding how things are changing. In a provocative book that will appeal to hip-hoppers both black and white and their parents, Bakari Kitwana deftly teases apart the culture of hip-hop to illuminate how race is being lived by young Americans. This topic is ripe, but untried, and Kitwana poses and answers a plethora of questions: Does hip-hop belong to black kids? What in hip-hop appeals to white youth? Is hip-hop different from what rhythm, blues, jazz, and even rock 'n' roll meant to previous generations? How have mass media and consumer culture made hip-hop a unique phenomenon? What does class have to do with it? Are white kids really hip-hop's primary listening audience? How do young Americans think about race, and how has hip-hop influenced their perspective? Are young Americans achieving Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream through hip-hop? Kitwana addresses uncomfortable truths about America's level of comfort with black people, challenging preconceived notions of race. With this brave tour de force, Bakari Kitwana takes his place alongside the greatest African American intellectuals of the past decades.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Caucasian parents anxiously seeking explanations for either the descending waistlines of their children's trousers or the distressing contents of their iPods won't find them in Kitwana's repetitive, digressive and rather dated book, which is better at throwing out questions than following up on them. To the title question, former Source executive editor Kitwana (The Hip-Hop Generation) offers little more than variations on the stock answers of "alienation" and declining economic opportunity. The flip side-Kitwana's belief in hip-hop's liberatory potential (he sees it as "the last hope of America")-belongs more to the era of an engaged Fear of a Black Planet than the bling of The Game. But a bigger problem is that the book fails to spend much time discussing its putative subject; names are checked and scenes are discussed, but music and lyrics are rarely cited (a long chapter on Eminem quotes his lyrics exactly once). Similarly, the author has a way of invoking "opportunists," "the media" and "the few" with a maddening lack of specificity that blunts the book's already diffuse message. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Hip-hop scholar Kitwana (The Hip Hop Generation; former editor, the Source magazine) argues that social transformation exists at the intersection of young white fans and hip-hop. Kitwana investigates the appeal of hip-hop culture to white youth, whether they be simply questing for "cool" or discerning social injustices. He addresses concerns that by engaging in hip-hop, whites appropriate it, benefit financially, and further marginalize blacks. He asserts that hip-hop can break down racial barriers, provide an alternative to us/them racial politics, and positively mobilize young people of all races, who are politically abandoned through poor public schools, inadequate employment, and punitive sentencing guidelines. This is a refreshing case made to baby-boom parents, who may be familiar only with the sexist, criminal, and consumerist trappings of hip-hop, and a call for Generation X-ers to claim political voice (Kitwana calls blacks in this age group "the hip-hop generation"). Unfortunately, addressing both generations and distinct black and white audiences muddies the book's focus; those unversed in hip-hop may become lost in a sea of names; those immersed in the culture may weary of exposition. Still, this ambitious, convincing critique is warmly recommended for public libraries and academic collections in cultural studies.-Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Worthington Libs., OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465037469
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/30/2005
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Bakari Kitwana was the Executive Editor of The Source from 1994-98; Editorial Director at Third World Press; and a music reviewer for NPR's All Things Considered. He currently freelances for the Village Voice, Savoy, The Source, and the Progressive, and his weekly column, "Do the Knowledge," is published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He is the author of The Rap on Gangsta Rap and The Hip Hop Generation. He lives in Westlake, Ohio.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi
Introduction: Toward a New Racial Politics 1
Part 1 Questions: Do White Boys Want to be Black? 13
1 Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop 17
2 Identity Crisis? More Than Acting Black 53
3 Erasing Blackness: Are White Suburban Kids Really Hip-Hop's Primary Audience? 81
Part 2 Answers: From W.E.B. Du Bois to Chuck D 107
4 Wankstas, Wiggers and Wannabes: Hip-Hop, Film and White Boyz in the Hood 111
5 Fear of a Culture Bandit: Eminem, the Source a[mu]nd America's Racial Politics (Old and New) 135
6 Coalition Building Across Race: Organizing the Hip-Hop Voting Bloc 163
Acknowledgments 211
Index 213
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