Pop Culture Roundup: Racism on the Runway, Listening to HIP-HOP

There’s racism on the high fashion runways. It’s so egregious, even the New York Times wrote about it. Rachel does a nice job discussing it over at the Tavern.

And, today in class, we’re screening Byron Hurt’s excellent film, “HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” which he describes as a “loving critique” of Hip-Hop music and culture. Most of the film is about the misogyny and homophobia in rap lyrics. Hurt does a much better job dealing with sexism and misogyny, which he’s clearly thought a lot about, than with homophobia, which he seems uncomfortable discussing. Lots of bonus points for trying though. The part about racism in the film is when he interviews white kids who are hip-hop fans. One of the white kids says that she listens to hip-hop so she can “experience another culture” that includes “drive bys” and, in perhaps the most telling white-kid moment in the film, a white guy refers to Byron Hurt as “colored.” Great moment to capture on film for all it says about white appropriation of Black culture and what the phrase “I’m not a racist” looks like on film. I’ll add this film to the video page later today. Definitely worth ordering for your library.


  1. Somalia

    Byron Hurt’s documentory in my opinion was a very necessary one. To mainly focus my attention on his lack of coverage on homophobia in the Hip-Hop world, I think it would be safe to say that although he was able to challenge sexism and misogyny, he is still a black man, that was raised with some of the same views of homosexuality as the artist who degrade it – this is definately a possible reason for his discomfort of speaking about the subject. As a black female, I have seen numerous times the value that our men hold of actuallybeing considered “men”. Being a “man” (in a sense) is the ONLY thing that some of these men have. It is the best quality and aspect of their lives that they can rightfully say they own…. They are their manhood and their manhood is their identity. For them to be considered anything less is like ripping them away from the only thing that they knew they had for certain… For one to understand my outlook on this, they must first understand that many of the men who are homophobic in this particular Hip-Hop community has lived a difficult life, that has caused them to have many insecurities about people, life, society, etc…. Before they became famous they already knew the odds were against them for being considered “successful” by American standards. In America, success is often associated with educational background, income, and living standards. Unfortunately these opportunities aren’t evenly dispersed and many black men don’t have access to them. So in a country where “the man wears the pants” and throughout history has been considered the “bread winner,” and prime (if not solo) source of income for a family, black men often lack the chances to be what this country considers a “successful man.” Unfortunately (in many cases) black men now disregard the “sucessful” part and just aim to be “men”… it is the one of the two that they feel they know they can be… This is why to take that away from them by reffering to them as homosexual means so much to them. They then literally become afraid homosexuality, and develop a hate towards it. Please do understand that I am NOT in anyway defending their behavior towards homosexuality… I just understand why they feel that way.

  2. Ashley

    We watched that film in my Race & Ethnicities class this past week…eye opening and extremely interesting! I don’t think I’ll ever hear hip-hop the same way again.

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