Updates from Frederick Smith, former Detroiter living in Los Angeles, and author of Play It Forward (January 2015), Right Side of the Wrong Bed (December 2007), and Down For Whatever (July 2005).
There's some great scholarly work being published lately on topics that explore intersections of ethnicity and gender issues. Scholarly work by women. A few weeks ago, I shared the pending release of Ghettonation: Land of Bling, Home of the Shameless by Cora Daniels.
This week, the release of another academic work examining women and hip hop culture.
Pimps Up, Ho's Down: Hip Hop's Hold on Young Black Women, by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, explores the impacts of hip hop's increasing alliance with the sex industry, the rise of groupie culture in the hip hop world, the impact of hip hop's compulsory heterosexual culture on young black women, and the permeation of the hip hop ethos into young black women's conceptions of love and romance, while interrogating the complexities of young black women's engagement with a culture that is masculinist, misogynistic, and frequently mystifying.
In my day job at the university, I've been in several discussions with students, faculty and career center specialists, primarily those of African descent, about the career choices students aspire to... and how those choices may or may not be influenced by commercial hip hop culture.
For example, back in the day (however far back you want to go) university students aspired for careers that helped and aided their communities -- teachers, social workers, doctors, journalists, attorneys, etc. Many still do. But many of my professional peers have noticed an increase in the amount of black students who come to university with entertainment career aspirations: model, stylist, singer/rapper, actor, athlete, etc...
It's not passing judgment. It's just an observation... at one campus... that happens to be in Southern California. It could be just a SoCali thing. However, we wonder if the careers our students aspire to are influenced by the images and careers they see in their media and musical choices. Good question, wouldn't you agree?
Author of 3 QPOC/LGBT novels: Down For Whatever (05); Right Side of the Wrong Bed (08); Play It Forward (January 2015). www.FrederickLSmith.com @fsmith827
Student Affairs/Higher Education Professional. Cultural Centers. Cal State LA. ACPA. CaCCCHE. ACUI.
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